A riveting trek combining enthralling nature writing with engaging social history.



A National Book Award finalist unravels the compelling back story of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Olson (Count Down: Six Kids Vie for Glory at the World's Toughest Math Competition, 2003, etc.) combines nature writing with an investigative focus on the political, economic, and historical factors that changed the way scientists study volcanoes. Whether the author is delving into the dangers of working in the timber industry, offering an overview of the state of volcanology in 1980, or recounting the stories of individuals living and working near Mount St. Helens, his writing propels readers swiftly along as the story races toward the massive blast and its aftermath. Olson details the story of Weyerhaeuser, the infamous Washington logging company that owned “substantial portions of the land between Mount St. Helens and the Pacific Ocean.” The author weaves in both the corporate and family history of the Weyerhaeusers (“an American dynasty”), using that remarkable story as foundation for his narrative. This framework offers a compelling look into the region’s environmental and social history and how the company and the timber industry shaped a region. “It is difficult to overstate the significance of Weyerhaeuser Company to the history of the Pacific Northwest,” writes the author. “Weyerhaeuser and other economic interests have formed the backdrop against which much of the region’s history has played out.” Olson pinpoints 1980, the year of the eruption, as significant due to the social, economic, and environmental changes taking shape across America and what these shifts meant for the timber industry. The author provides an engrossing explanation of volcanology during the 1980s and how the eruption of Mount St. Helens altered the prevailing science. He also captures the forgotten or untold stories of the individuals who perished in the blast and describes the political wrangling surrounding the status of the devastated area.

A riveting trek combining enthralling nature writing with engaging social history.

Pub Date: March 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24279-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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