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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 29, 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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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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