An entertaining account of research that solved a historical mystery.

IN THE WAVES

MY QUEST TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE

Surprising new facts about the first submarine to destroy an enemy ship.

The culmination of years of development by Confederate designers led by marine engineer Horace Lawson Hunley, the Hunley killed two crew teams during testing (Hunley was among those killed) and a third on February 17, 1864, when it sank a Union blockader in Charleston Harbor with a bomb at the end of a 20-foot pole. Ironically, since submerging had proved a death sentence, the submarine traveled on the surface during its successful attack. This dramatic feat gained it mythical status, and great excitement followed the exhumation of the wreck in 2000. An engineer working for the Navy, Lance was studying at Duke University for a doctorate in biomedical engineering, and her thesis research concerned the effect of underwater explosions on humans. Most occurred during World War II, so these occupied her until a thesis advisor suggested that she give thought to the Hunley. She complied and turned up an intriguing puzzle, which she delivers to readers. When recovered, the submarine was intact with little visible damage. “All eight men inside were found resting at their battle stations,” she writes. “None showed any signs of skeletal trauma. None appeared to have made any attempt to escape the vessel. The narrative combines description of the author’s research into what happened after the explosion with a detailed history of events on that night in 1864, including biographies of those involved and careful examinations of the eight victims. In Hollywood, an explosion hurls the hero through the air; he brushes himself off and walks away. In reality, most bomb blasts mutilate their targets, but a sufficiently strong shock wave can produce internal injuries that kill someone on the spot. Lance delivers a lively, if often technical, description of the many experiments, models, calculations, and explosions that persuaded her and her doctoral committee that this is what happened to the Hunley.

An entertaining account of research that solved a historical mystery.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4415-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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