It’s not Fear and Loathing or even The Boys on the Bus, but Conroy turns in a quirky, well-observed account of how electoral...




To win the presidency, you have to win a primary, and to win a primary, you have to carry New Hampshire, powerful all out of proportion to its size or population.

Reporting from the front lines of “a small but essential island of virtue and discernment adrift in the vast sea of contemptibility that consumes our public life every four years,” producer and documentary director Conroy (co-author: Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar, 2009) ponders how New Hampshire could have so much sway over the nation’s presidential politics. He doesn’t provide much in the way of a firm answer, but he does allow that New Hampshire is small, ethnically and culturally undiverse, and used to participatory government, meaning that candidates who brave its borders find themselves having to talk to real people, mostly older and mostly white, about real issues. Instead, Conroy delivers vignette moments along the trail. It’s easy from his account to see, for instance, why New York–born Bernie Sanders fits in so well in the politics of New England; his impatience with small talk and delay (“God help you if he was ready to go and you weren’t”) is perfectly in tune with the brisk pace of getting it done that New Hampshirites embrace. Conroy can sting nicely, as when he writes, “Rand Paul proved to be neither the most interesting man in politics nor the most interesting man in his own family,” and he gets in a few digs on points that have since become clichés (“Trump shot back, extending his tiny hands as far to his sides as they would stretch”). The narrative never goes deep, but it runs broad, covering the last campaign while drawing on a couple of its predecessors and not letting anyone come out unscathed.

It’s not Fear and Loathing or even The Boys on the Bus, but Conroy turns in a quirky, well-observed account of how electoral politics works.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61039-581-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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.


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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