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

SHENANDOAH

A STORY OF CONSERVATION AND BETRAYAL

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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

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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