In his first book, former New York Times editor Heyman recaptures the fascinating life of a man rife with paradoxes.

In this exploration of the life of Louis Bromfield (1896-1956), the author chronicles his journey from the darling of American expatriate writers in Paris in the 1920s—and later an agricultural visionary—to the dissipation of his fame and influence. But this is not just a standard biography; Heyman turns the story of this novelist, screenwriter, nonfiction author, and pioneering farmer into an utterly engrossing account of both his life and his times. For years, everything Bromfield touched turned golden, his reputation and robust book sales easily surpassing those of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. His contacts and friends were a who's who of international literary lions, Hollywood royalty, potentates, and politicians. His horticultural ideas, embodied with varying success in his Malabar Farm in Ohio, were indispensable for early organic farming in the United States. Yet lavish spending, chronic overextension, and arrogance served to undermine Bromfield's notable accomplishments and even overshadow his considerable humanitarian efforts during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He died in 1956, his prestige in tatters. Heyman marshals meticulous detail, unflinching appraisal, indelible personalities, and rich character study in a narrative that straddles worlds and eras and never flags. These elements coalesce within a fluid, remarkably propulsive writing style that keeps the pages turning. This is a biography of dual landscapes—literary and pastoral—as much as a chronicle of a man. The narrative succeeds on every level, not least in Heyman’s evocation of time, place, and the origins of American agricultural blunders that plague us still. The first third of the book, dealing chiefly with the Bromfield family's years in France, will be irresistible to those unaware of Bromfield's early eminence in letters or his relationships with such intimates as Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton. Bromfield's story clarifies a period cloaked in romanticism and a movement buttressed by conservationist ideals.

An outstanding debut.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00189-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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 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...


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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