Anderson’s back-and-forth style is challenging, and he has an unfortunate penchant for gratuitous profanity. Nevertheless,...

BOOM TOWN

THE FANTASTICAL SAGA OF OKLAHOMA CITY, ITS CHAOTIC FOUNDING, ITS PURLOINED BASKETBALL TEAM, AND THE DREAM OF BECOMING A WORLD-CLASS METROPOLIS

An irreverent look at one of the nation’s quirkier cities, “one of the great weirdo cities of the world.”

“In the larger economy of American attention,” writes Anderson, “Oklahoma City’s main job has always been to be ignored.” The author, a winner of a National Magazine Award, seeks to rectify this popular neglect via a rollicking history of the nation’s 27th-largest city. Founded in one day in 1889, Oklahoma City has garnered a reputation for violence (its first mayor died of a gunshot wound), chaotic weather (the first photograph of a tornado was taken there), and grandiose, outsized ambition (its Will Rogers World Airport has no international flights). Anderson helpfully profiles several of the residents and leaders who have given the city its unique character, including civil rights activist Clara Luper, legendary weatherman Gary England, and Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. But the book centers on the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics. Led by the supremely talented duo of Russell Westbrook (an enigmatic, hellbent-for-leather point guard) and Kevin Durant (a quietly efficient scoring machine), the Thunder reached the Finals in 2012 only to regress in subsequent years, culminating in a heartbreaking defeat in the 2016 playoffs at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, with whom Durant subsequently signed as a free agent. Anderson toggles between recent Thunder seasons and the history of Oklahoma City, portraying the team’s highs and lows as symbols of the town’s boom-and-bust story. Unquestionably, the residents have forged a deep bond with the Thunder. In one of the book’s more touching moments, Anderson interviews an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice who notes how the arrival of the franchise in 2008 helped to heal the figurative wounds inflicted by the terrorist bombing 13 years earlier.

Anderson’s back-and-forth style is challenging, and he has an unfortunate penchant for gratuitous profanity. Nevertheless, he provides an entertaining history of a city that, for all its booms and busts, is never boring.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3731-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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