A LAND SO FAIR AND BRIGHT

THE TRUE STORY OF A YOUNG MAN'S ADVENTURES ACROSS DEPRESSION AMERICA

Absorbing sequel to Hofvendahl's Hard on the Wind (1983), which detailed the author's sea-faring adventures at age 15. Here, a 16-year-old Hofvendahl undertakes a rigorous odyssey across 1938 America. After jumping ship in British Columbia with a friendly Danish seaman, Hofvendahl endures a hobo journey of riding the rails, hitchhiking, and walking across Canada and the US to N.Y.C. and south to New Orleans, then through the arid Southwest to California. He survives periodic hunger and thirst, heat and cold, loneliness and risk of sudden death while matching wits with Canadian Mounties, brutal armed railroad ``bulls,'' suspicious townspeople, and a few criminal hoboes. Although at times finding temporary work as a farm laborer and as a clothes- presser in N.Y.C., Hofvendahal discovers that when his funds are spent there are always the kindness of strangers and the compassion of women. The Good Samaritan theme recurs throughout as the author in turn helps his fellows in a kind of brotherhood of the road, bonding through sharing at this time when a dollar a day and hot meals were the pay for backbreaking labor. In tight, lean prose, Hofvendahl writes evocatively of courage, hope, and the essential decency of ordinary people: in all, a gritty picture of desperate Depression days when uncounted thousands left home to seek a more hopeful life somewhere beyond the horizon.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-924486-10-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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