LAST HOUSE ON THE ROAD

EXCURSIONS INTO A RURAL PAST

The reclamation of an 18th-century New Hampshire farmstead over the past 25 years provides an enchanting ``natural sequel'' to Eighty Acres, the author's popular 1990 memoir of growing up on a Michigan farm. Jager, a former Yale philosophy professor, and his wife bought the Cape Codstyle farmhouse and 100 acres near Washington, N.H., in 1966. Though they did not move in full-time until the late 1970s, renovation began almost immediately, as did Jager's research into the place and the surrounding community. They christened the spread ``Lovellwood,'' after the mountain that looms over the property. The house had been abandoned for years, and the woods were beginning to reclaim pastures and meadows, while some sections simply lay fallow. Jager learned that Ebenezer Wood, a Revolutionary War Minuteman, was the ``original settler'' on the place in 1780, or '81. When he began work on the interior, he discovered Wood's original framing—``built to last forever''—of pine, spruce, and hemlock beams, held together by oak treenails, or trunnels, as they were called. He exposed those beams, removing layers of wallpaper and cow-hair- and horsehair-bound plaster. Jager also discovered (while mowing the lawn) the original hearthstones Wood had chiseled from the local granite. They had been ``ditched'' by the Powers family, who'd bought the place in 1857, when they remodeled at the turn of the century. While the refurbishing of the house is the central topic, Jager also offers a look at contemporary country living and rural New England politics. He strings together several lovely natural history pieces, such as his eloquent proclamation on his love for the woods; his fond, reasoned farewell to deer hunting; and his cornucopian description of the forest's encroachment on a lush meadow he's trying to save. A joy: like getting a letter from a modern-day Thoreau, one who takes sensual pleasure in writing, and has his feet planted firmly on the soil.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1994

ISBN: 0-8070-7062-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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