KILL THE COWBOY

A BATTLE OF MYTHOLOGY IN THE NEW WEST

Take the cowboy, please, and send him packing, along with all his mythological baggage—or so argues Russell (Writing/Western New Mexico University) in this provocative and iconoclastic study. Huge tracts of public range are beginning to go lunar: badlands-scale erosion; dry and degraded stream beds, void of wildlife. Livestock overgrazing is much to blame, Russell says, and greedy, land-rapacious ranchers are the culprits. ``Greedy'' because this public land could support and benefit from a moderate grazing regimen—except that ``moderate'' isn't part of the stockman's vocabulary. Government institutions such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management—along with the powerful rancher's lobby in Washington—seem intent on keeping the status quo, while a wide array of groups and individuals have taken up opposition. Russell documents the struggles of these ranching opponents and their visions of a different land use, from Quaker to Earth First!-er. Much is afoot on public rangeland—from possible wolf-reintroduction and holistic resource-management to the loss of almost all riparian ecosystems due to cow-stomping and the poisoning of wildlife by ranchers who don't like the competition- -and Russell samples from all these waters. How can we restore degraded land? asks Russell. How can we have healthy systems of soil and water? How can humans fit into the landscape? The author, meanwhile, is aware that ranchers are in a predicament: How can they change their ways and still avoid economic ruin? The final chapter finds her in a philosophical mode, ruminating on Judeo- Christian ethics, biodiversity, Gary Snyder, and Native American attitudes toward the land. Russell takes a cultural icon and, in one bold stroke, brings it full circle from myth to menace. The West needs a new image, and she's given us many to choose from.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-58123-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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