Next book

SHENANDOAH

A STORY OF CONSERVATION AND BETRAYAL

Eisenfeld writes about Shenandoah the way Annie Proulx writes about Wyoming or Edward Abbey about the deserts of the...

A complicated history of conservation.

Like many visitors to national parks, Eisenfeld (MA Writing Program/Johns Hopkins Univ.) assumed that the land had always been wilderness. One day, however, in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, she came upon “an incongruous, well-maintained cemetery in the middle of the forest” and realized that the land once had been a community where people lived, worked and buried their dead. For the next two decades, she hiked off-trail, bushwhacking, in search of the park’s past. The author’s vivid debut work of nonfiction recounts that search: a memoir of her explorations into places “not curated for beauty”; a capsule history of the conservation movement that created such spectacular sites as Yosemite, Yellowstone and Shenandoah; and, based on interviews and archival sources, stories of families whose homes and lives were threatened by their government’s good intentions. The Shenandoah project, she learned, was begun by an act of Congress in 1926, which mandated the government to create a national park in Virginia—convenient for the growing mid-Atlantic population—by gaining title from landowners. A condition of the bill stipulated that the government would buy no land; instead, it expected donations. Lawmakers who enacted the bill assumed that the area’s few inhabitants, “the nameless and faceless mountaineers,” would not object to leaving “what many outsiders considered their godforsaken, hardscrabble homes.” However, the lawmakers were surprised: Their surveyors returned, reporting “that the area wasn’t quite the wilderness the park promoters had depicted” but rather “encompassed 5,650 tracts and 3,250 homes,” with orchards, gardens, gristmills, blacksmith shops and cemeteries. Some residents had lost deeds; others adamantly refused to be dispossessed. The next years saw conflicts and evictions, protests and lawsuits, and often stalwart resistance.

Eisenfeld writes about Shenandoah the way Annie Proulx writes about Wyoming or Edward Abbey about the deserts of the Southwest: pristine, unsentimental, eloquent prose.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8032-3830-5

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Next book

NIGHT

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

Next book

INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Close Quickview