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THE YEAR OF NO SUMMER

Disparate musings cohere into a lyrical meditation on violence, disaster, and humanity’s yearning for solace.

In 1815, a volcanic eruption caused a year of devastation. Here is a vivid, disquieting collage of prose pieces that swirl around that one cataclysmic event.

In this slim book, poet, essayist, and children’s book author Lebowitz (Cottonopolis, 2013, etc.) draws on fairy tales and parables; excerpts from memoirs, poetry, and the King James Bible; Norse and Greek myths; and assorted historical and archaeological sources. On April 10, 1815, in Indonesia, Mount Tambora spewed lava and ash into the atmosphere, instantly killing nearly 12,000 people and countless animals. Cows and horses were swept into the sky; pumice lay a foot thick; birds fell dead; and there was darkness for days. Throughout the world, what should have been summer never arrived. In July, rivers were iced over; rain fell unabated; harvests failed. In the months that followed, 90,000 Indonesians starved. Crops were covered in frost, and fungi poisoned wheat. The next year, 1817, was “The Year of the Beggar.” Not surprisingly, some saw the eruption as God’s punishment: “when the weather turned or disaster struck,” Lebowitz observes, “there were always voices explaining why this was so, why the rain was falling now, why the snow was brown, whose side God was on.” Some prayed, and others atoned, but still summer never came. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and their children were in Switzerland during the wettest summer on record. Lake Geneva flooded and inundated the town of Vevey, where Shelley created her tale of a monster who runs from his creator into an icy realm. Lebowitz juxtaposes the volcanic eruption with another violent event that occurred a century later: World War I, “the turning-point in the history of the earth,” according to British writer Wyndham Lewis, in which men and horses drowned in mud, just as they had in the post-volcanic year.

Disparate musings cohere into a lyrical meditation on violence, disaster, and humanity’s yearning for solace.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77196-219-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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

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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