A lighthearted, entertaining trip down Memory Lane.



A historical and nostalgic look at the family road trip.

In his first book, a mix of memoir, history lesson, and travelogue, advertising copywriter Ratay waxes wistfully over the rise and fall of the tradition of traversing the United States via the nation’s superhighways. Using as a jumping-off point his personal experiences in the 1970s as a child stuffed into the back of a station wagon with his siblings (“although ordinary Joes couldn’t afford a plane ticket, nearly every family could afford a car, often two”), the author covers a wide variety of topics related to family road trips. He discusses the construction of U.S. interstates, the need for dining establishments, gas stations, and motels for the families on the road, and the sights a child might have longed to see, including a whole slew of “World’s Largest” objects or animals. Ratay includes details about the rise of theme parks, including Disneyland and Disneyworld, Knott’s Berry Farm, and others, when more safety features, including seat belts, were introduced, and how the use of CB radios kept people in touch with one another on the road. He also shares his thoughts on how cheaper air fare and the need for faster travel have helped make the long road trip somewhat of a relic. Some of the more minute details—e.g., about the roof design on Stuckey’s restaurants and their distinctive yellow-and-red billboards—may not appeal to a wide audience, but much of the narrative will find favor with older readers who can readily recall their own experiences riding in the car while Dad drove and Mom navigated. By sharing this history, Ratay also provides a useful juxtaposition against the modern vacation, with each person engaged with an electronic device rather than each other and the surroundings outside the windows.

A lighthearted, entertaining trip down Memory Lane.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8874-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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 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...


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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