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A middling biography that serves as a useful reminder of an exemplary champion for the Earth.

A celebration of a significant 19th-century environmental activist.

Hatch (The Last Days of George Armstrong Custer: The True Story of the Battle of Little Bighorn, 2015, etc.) offers a thorough, but undistinguished, biography of George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938), known by his contemporaries as “The Father of American Conservation.” The author asserts that Grinnell “has not enjoyed the acclaim of other early conservationists,” but he was the subject of a fine, recently published biography, John Taliaferro’s Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Drive To Save the West, (2019) which covers essentially the same ground as Hatch’s more concise book. Both authors chronicle Grinnell’s evolution from Wall Street financier to eminent naturalist, his advocacy for Native Americans, his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt and others concerned about the environment, his editorship of Field and Stream, his founding of the Audubon Society, his prolific publications, and his many expeditions into “the untamed wilderness.” Neither author is able to offer intimate details about Grinnell’s personal life: for example, his sudden decision, at the age of 53, to marry a “young Boston widow,” 24-year-old Elizabeth Curtis Williams. Hatch emphasizes Grinnell’s “continuing growth as an advocate” for Native Americans, whom he considered “downtrodden” victims of governmental fraud. In Grinnell, writes the author, Native Americans “encountered not merely a sympathetic ear but a man who truly desired to tell an accurate story and offer a vivid yet unembellished portrayal” of tribal culture. Hatch boasts that his biography is “not only timely but has a chance to make a substantial difference” by alerting readers that natural resources “are under siege.” In the final chapter, he exhorts readers to preserve Grinnell’s legacy, to trust in the “wonders of science to develop a solution to climate change,” and to ensure that “civilization, commercialization, and conservation” can flourish together. The concerned public may “have more influence than we may think,” Hatch writes, “but it must be used wisely and properly.”

A middling biography that serves as a useful reminder of an exemplary champion for the Earth.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68442-333-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Turner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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