A captivating history of two men who dramatically changed their contemporaries’ view of the past.

JUNGLE OF STONE

THE TRUE STORY OF TWO MEN, THEIR EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY, AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE LOST CIVILIZATION OF THE MAYA

Daring adventurers unearth a buried civilization.

In his thrilling debut history, journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Carlsen traces the arduous journeys of lawyer John Lloyd Stephens and architect/artist Frederick Catherwood into the jungles of Central America. Both seasoned travelers to Rome, Greece, and throughout the Middle East, in 1839, when the two boarded a ship bound for the Gulf of Honduras, they had read only “vague reports of intricately sculpted stones” hinting at the existence of “a hidden unknown world.” Those reports, and the intrepid voyages of naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt, fueled their “hunger for adventure, the quest, the whiff of danger.” Danger proved more than a whiff on 2,500 miles of life-threatening travel—both men contracted malaria and other tropical diseases, and civil wars raged—as they pursued their dream. In a battered Toyota, Carlsen followed their footsteps, and he evokes in palpable detail the tangled forests, punishing deserts, and cliffhanging mountain paths that they traversed. Stephens and Catherwood had no idea what to expect: common knowledge had it that Central America had been inhabited by primitive indigenous tribes. But they found shocking evidence of a sophisticated culture. “Architecture, sculpture, and painting, all the arts which embellish life, had flourished in this overgrown forest; orators, warriors, and statesmen, beauty, ambition, and glory had lived and passed away,” Stephens wrote in a travel book, impressively illustrated by Catherwood, that became a bestseller. “It was a mystery,” Carlsen writes, “of staggering implications.” As the “acknowledged progenitor of American archaeology,” Stephens could only guess at what he had found: he lacked the methodology and tools that would enable later archaeologists to date findings and flesh out Mayan history. A subsequent trip in 1841 yielded another volume, so eagerly anticipated that it was a bestseller even before “rapturous reviews” appeared.

A captivating history of two men who dramatically changed their contemporaries’ view of the past.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-240739-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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