Enthusiasts will love it; others may grow bored.



The editor in chief of Living Bird magazine writes about his favorite feathered friends.

Noted for tracking down the famously elusive ivory-billed woodpecker (The Grail Bird, 2005), ornithologist Gallagher is also an ardent falconer. His boundary-stretching memoir chronicles coming of age with birds of prey. Reared in a bleakly dysfunctional family, the author discovered in adolescence a lifelong idol: Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, author of the classic text on keeping and training raptors. Gallagher’s admiration for Frederick gave rise in later years to an Italian tour in homage to his hero. He offers a report on what he did on that vacation, the interesting spots he missed and the crafty locals who took his luggage. It was depressing, but the author discovered good cheer as well during soulful trips to famous grouse moors, meetings and group hunts with colorful, world-class falconers. Indeed, most of his book concerns adventures and fellowship with the artists who train and run these darting and diving feathered hunters. Falconry is an art, Gallagher declares, proffering a rapturous vision of the sport that has spanned continents and millennia, in addition to his recollections of all the old fowlers and birds he will never meet again. Tiercel prairie falcons, Cooper’s hawks, Gyrfalcons and buteos throng his pages, as do the tools of the trade: hoods, creances, swivels, jesses and, recently, telemetry devices. Pigeons, ducks, mice and rabbits are clobbered, albeit with grace and intelligence, in a narrative quite red in beak and claw. Gallagher’s favorite bird is named Macduff, but it’s readers not totally enraptured with hunting birds perched on gauntleted fists who are likely to be the first to cry “Hold, enough!”

Enthusiasts will love it; others may grow bored.

Pub Date: May 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-618-80575-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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 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...


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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