BEREZINA

FROM MOSCOW TO PARIS FOLLOWING NAPOLEON’S EPIC FAIL

A brief travelogue that bridges and comingles past and present.

French travel writer Tesson chronicles his journey following the route of Napoleon’s 1812 retreat from Moscow to Paris—200 years later, on motorcycle, in winter.

The two weeks documented here represent an adventure, pilgrimage, and challenge against the elements and the weight of history. In 2012, the author and a small group of friends decided to brave the elements of ice and snow on two motorcycles with sidecars, duplicating the route that, two centuries earlier, had been littered with corpses from the well-documented retreat of Napoleon, a “paradox, unique in Human History: an army marched, from victory to victory, toward its total annihilation!” Over the course of the text, Tesson evokes War and Peace, various historical accounts, and Napoleon’s own grandiose confessions, alternating with the contemporary account of following Napoleon’s tragic route. But why? “For the sheer glory of it.” There was much camaraderie on the trip but little glory, as the journey culminated less in triumph than in relief; ultimately, the dangers encountered and the historical horrors conjured hardly seemed worth the risk. As the author notes at one point, “doubt was worming its way into me: what the hell was I doing on a Ural [motorcycle] in the middle of December, with two fools in tow, when these damn machines are made to transport small, 90-pound Ukrainian women from Yalta beach to Simferopol on a summer afternoon?” Yet the meditative aspects of braving the elements on motorcycle offered time to reflect on the enduring legacy of the Franco-Russian conflict on both nations and the rest of the world, the visions that drove Napoleon to his death, and the differences in character between the Russians—in the era after Communism and the Soviet Union—and the French. Both the writer and the reader feel like they’ve really been through something when the journey is done and Tesson concludes, “I suddenly felt like going home, taking a shower, and washing off all those horrors.”

A brief travelogue that bridges and comingles past and present.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60945-554-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Europa Compass

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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

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