WOLF WILLOW

A HISTORY, A STORY, AND A MEMORY OF THE LAST PLAINS FRONTIER (PENGUIN TWENTIETH-CENTURY CLASSICS)

The author of this delightful book, one of America's most distinguished writers, states that it is "A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier", and it follows this subtitle exactly. The "History" is that of the country around the Cypress Hills in Saska, the "Story" a fictional tale of cowboys and cattle in the terrible winter of 19067, the "Memory" the author's nostalgic account of his boyhood in the town he names "Whitemud". In 1914 the author's family, following the American dream of a Garden in the West, migrated from town to Whitemud, then barely born, in southern Saskatchewan, and took up a homestead exactly on the Montana-Canadian border, living there and in Whitemud. Five years later, defeated by drought and poverty, they moved on again; years afterward the author returned to find memory in the smell of the Wolf Willow that grew in the Whitemud streams of his boyhood and through it to recapture the past. Life in Whitemud and in the homestead shack was primitive and ugly, but he learned much from it; loneliness and hunger, the joys of treasure-hunting on the town dump, the fact that "anyone, starting from privation, Is spared getting bored". Of Whitemud's history he learned nothing, for although the nearby Cypress Hills had seen every stage of frontier life the town cared nothing for the past, and he knew nothing of fur-traders or Indians seeking sanetuary; he was barely aware of the Mounties, the half-breed metis, the cattle-men ruined in the winter of 1906. This book, one to be read slowly, savored and re-read, will appeal to those with the West in their bones and to searchers for the vanished frontier in its not so-distant reality.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1962

ISBN: 0141185015

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1962

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

NIGHT

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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