Vivid and graceful reflections on water and wind, shifting sands, and the inevitability of change.

THE OUTER BEACH

A THOUSAND-MILE WALK ON CAPE COD'S ATLANTIC SHORE

Lyrical reflections, natural history, and nuggets of wisdom inspired by walks at the shore.

In 40 years of walking along Cape Cod’s Outer Beach, Finch (Cape Cod Notebook 2, 2016, etc.) estimates that he has covered 1,000 miles, rambles that have informed nine previous books. In his latest collection, he chronicles his beach walking from south to north along the Cape’s 40-mile stretch of glacial bluffs, barrier beach, and islands. The author chose John Keats’ remark, “Description is always bad,” as an epigraph for the book, but that comment surely does not apply to the precision and sheer loveliness of Finch’s prose. One night, walking through fog, he could barely see the surf but suddenly smelled the ocean, “rich, salt spiced, redolent of fecundity and decay.” Under moonlight, the waves “came in silhouette, low black forms, like great fish swirling in on the moon-crusted surface of the sea.” Like the surfers he enjoys watching, Finch has learned to read waves, “each with its own distinct shape, height, alignment, speed, curl.” Each wave “speaks its own watery sentence, which the surfer has to parse.” The author reflects often on change and time. “The more mobile we become,” he suggests, “the more immobile we demand nature to be.” But the shore is in constant, repetitive flux: “The Cape’s outer shores are a solid metaphor for the river of time, into which we can step only once.” Finch once brought a distraught friend to the shore, hoping to help him discover “the need to adapt continually to change, always to be watching for undertows and rogue waves, to dance nimbly along its edges.” His friend returned to the solidity of hills; Finch found “solace and reassurance from the beach.” Even without the possible rise in sea level because of climate change, scientists estimate that the Cape will be eroded in 6,000 years. Nature, Finch knows, is more powerful than human intervention, and it is this power than enthralls him.

Vivid and graceful reflections on water and wind, shifting sands, and the inevitability of change.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-08130-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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