Thorough and well written, if sometimes dry. The book lacks Brower’s soaring idealism, but it provides a highly useful view...

THE MAN WHO BUILT THE SIERRA CLUB

A LIFE OF DAVID BROWER

A sturdy life of David Brower (1912-2000), the legendarily tough and tough-minded pioneering environmentalist who shaped the Sierra Club into a national political force.

By the reckoning of a fellow activist, Brower was “the last of the great amateur environmentalists”—meaning, as Wyss (Journalism/Univ. of Connecticut; Covering the Environment: How Journalists Work the Green Beat, 2007, etc.) elaborates, that he did not come to the job equipped with the tools of a CEO or development officer in the way of a modern nonprofit leader. Instead, Brower wielded the ice ax of a mountaineer and the blue pencil of an editor, and he knew his way around a podium as well as a goat path. As Wyss notes, the board of the Sierra Club, which Brower led for years, had to confine him to the office by contract to keep him from running off into the field. The author writes under the long shadow of John McPhee, whose Encounters with the Archdruid (1971) cast Brower as a quixotic hero. Wisely, Wyss elects not to compete with McPhee but instead to round out his account with details of the daily work of advocating for conservation. That work involved hated office routines and lots of politicking, to be sure, but also afforded Brower the opportunity to do some interesting things, such as publish a line of books featuring such writers as Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey and photographers such as Galen Rowell and Ansel Adams, the last of whom would prove a testy friend and uneasy ally. So it was, too, with Stewart Udall, the interior secretary on whom Brower pinned much hope but who regularly crossed him. Often reprimanded and sometimes fired, Brower remained a force in the environmental movement until the end of his long life, and this book makes fitting homage.

Thorough and well written, if sometimes dry. The book lacks Brower’s soaring idealism, but it provides a highly useful view of how environmental battles are waged in the trenches.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-231-16446-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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