Insightful, sometimes shocking, and often disheartening.



A trip through “some of the saddest places on earth” that the author describes as “less sad than revelatory and appreciative.”

After more than 30 works in his genre, prolific, award-winning crime novelist Cook (A Dancer in the Dust, 2015, etc.) tries his hand at nonfiction with a quirky but engrossing travel book of 28 short chapters whose theme—unhappy locales throughout the world—delivers on its promise. In addition to the usual suspects—Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Verdun, ground zero and the former World Trade Center—there are some decidedly more obscure places. Phu Quoc is a small island where America’s Saigon ally kept prisoners during the Vietnam War. New Echota is the former capital of the Cherokee nation in Georgia. Historians often lament America’s forced expulsion of the tribe to Oklahoma in the 1830s; in fact, they endured a death march similar to Bataan’s, with much the same rate of starvation, abuse, and death. As the world’s two leading sites of suicide, Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, at the base of Mount Fuji, and the Golden Gate Bridge share a chapter. Of the former, Cook writes, “since 1950, over five hundred people have come here to die by their own hand. In 2003 alone, one hundred bodies were found by the wood’s hikers and volunteer searchers.” An entire African nation, Ghana, occupies two. It is far from the poorest and not particularly violent, but it is a land of crumbling infrastructure, terrible sanitation, and quietly corrupt leaders who soak up the foreign aid. More than one horror turns up in these pages. A comic-book character today, the real Bluebeard was a 15th-century nobleman in a small French town who raped and tortured to death hundreds of young boys over nearly 15 years until he offended a local bishop.

Insightful, sometimes shocking, and often disheartening.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-847-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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