HEAVEN AND EARTH

THE LAST FARMERS OF THE NORTH FORK

Wick's (Bad Company: Drugs, Hollywood, and the Cotton Club Murder, 1990) elegiac story of the farmers on the North Fork of New York's Long Island, whose centuries-old way of life is approaching a sorry finale. The last glaciers bequeathed to the North Fork a rich, loamy earth, free of boulders, a bounty not lost on the native Algonquins, who farmed the land for many a year. When Europeans came ashore in 1640, they too appreciated the agricultural potential of the land, much of it cleared into meadows thoughtfully provided by the Algonquins before they were given trinkets, rum, and dubious legal documents and told to take a hike. Descendants of those first European settlers—the Wickhams, Tuthills, and Wellses- -continue to farm the North Fork 350 years later, for potatoes and peaches and cherries, apples, tomatoes, corn, and hay, a mere two hours and a lightyear away from New York City. Wick, a Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter for Newsday who lives in the area, did his homework: His narrative starts way before the first European contact, and continues with the 15th-century English cod fishermen fetching these reaches, Cabot and Verrazano and Hudson, the Pequot wars. He follows closely, very closely, the lives of the earliest settlers, how they shaped the land, finagled every last acre from the natives, conducted their internecine rivalries, handled the influx of Irish in the 1840s and Poles in the years after 1910. Threaded into this history are the lives of the Wickham and Tuttle families, what it means to be one of them today: contending with taxes and pesticide restrictions and farmhand camp inspectors, struggling with failing machinery, failing prices, failing weather, and vineyards and condos the crops of the future. (Sixty-four pages of photos by Lynn Johnson were not available for review.) Storm warnings cloud the North Fork farming forecast, much as they did for Peter Matthiessen's fishers in Men's Lives.

Pub Date: June 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-14352-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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