A nostalgic, entertaining look at gun culture.

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THE GUNS WE LEFT BEHIND

TALES OF CULTURE AND CALIBER

In this collection of essays and fictional stories, a hunter, gun collector and competitive shooter shares his lifelong passion for guns.

Hirsh comes from the long lines of Virginians and West Virginians who treasure guns. “Seriously, if we had a flag, there’d be a gun on it,” he says. He’s also a retired English teacher and college professor who, as a researcher, decided not to join the National Rifle Association in order to maintain objectivity. The nation remains divided over guns, Hirsh writes, and he sees two sides: those who’ve grown up hearing how bad guns are and the “gun culture” that takes pride in its heritage. The first group may not like his book, but the second group will. Hirsh’s more affluent forebears include one whose company provided the water system for the Manhattan project and, later, infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center, “[s]o we are a family of plumbers who have always loved guns.” Some family-centered tales are almost reverent, such as the WWII–era story “Uncle Gene’s Carbine,” and some are hilarious, including “Supermodels and the Pigeon King,” in which Hirsh’s Cosmo-editor stepsister visits the farm with supermodels who use his Ruger 10/22 rifle to unload on a stale pastry (“Time to meet your maker, muffin!”). Hirsh is all business, however, when discussing gun safety, as he does in the essay “Shooting Up,” about some irresponsible shooters he encouraged to leave a public range. One of his most stirring fictional pieces, “The Sentinel,” tells of a single mom who, after getting a gun to protect her family, is dismayed when she has to use it. In “Bambi’s Nightmare,” Hirsh recalls the rural high school where textbook stories about animal rights “drove my students nuts.” Hunting was a way of life for them, and in 14 years at the school, Hirsh lost nine students to car and ATV accidents but none to accidental shootings or gun crime. There are some typos, but the book is well-written and largely jargon-free. Hirsh says his goal was simply to write “a friendly cultural acquaintance, not a scholarly study” about guns, and in this, he succeeds.

A nostalgic, entertaining look at gun culture.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494877637

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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