Big news in the Little House. As already reported in the press, Holtz (English/Missouri) maintains that Rose Wilder Lane was a silent partner to her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, turning Laura's bland and shapeless memoirs into burnished literary reminiscences. Here, Holtz's respectful, penetrating, deeply detailed biography of the daughter documents her capacities as writer/editor, establishing plausible motivation and providing evidence (diary entries, letters) of the mutual deception. Missouri-born Rose left an impoverished home as soon as she could, married early and briefly, then began a writing career that took her to exotic places among famous people. But few works of quality emerged: Often writing ``under the lash of necessity,'' she lived a life full of sudden projects, bouts of depression, the occasional ``ethical slide,'' and a string of intense but failed relationships. Returning broke to the family farm in her mid-30s, she was drawn to a libertarian philosophy that colored her writing as she searched in vain for personal validation and financial security. At the same time, ``Mama Bess'' wrote short, undistinguished farm-wife pieces until, encouraged by Rose, she resumed a narrative on pioneer life. Although Rose coached her on structure and tone, the older woman could not incorporate these suggestions into her work. ``I know the music, but I can't think of the words,'' she admitted. Ultimately, Rose used her professional experience to turn her mother's recollections into publishable form, standardizing spelling and punctuation, changing the narrative from first person to third, and altering events for dramatic purposes and to suit her political principles. Nobody suspected the collaboration until scholars looking for the roots of Laura's ``untutored genius'' found little to support her transformation. An intimately argued and nonjudgmental presentation that well supports Holtz's contention that ``everything that makes the Little House books stand up and sing is what the daughter did to them.'' (Twenty-five illustrations—not seen)

Pub Date: May 31, 1993

ISBN: 0-8262-0887-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Univ. of Missouri

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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