Wilderness stories that will leave you agape and agog.



Western novelist Blevins (Ravenshadow, 1999, etc.) spins robust, theatrical and mostly true tales of early-19th-century American mountain men.

He comes at the stories with gusto, dramatizing to a certain extent these frontiersmen’s fantastic experiences, from the exploits of John Colter in 1808 to Kit Carson’s legendary work as John C. Fremont’s scout during the 1840s. Along the upper Missouri River, Colter ran afoul of some Blackfeet Indians, who stripped him of his clothes and told him to run. Stark naked, with nothing but his hands to gather food, he managed to make his way hundreds of miles to Fort Lisa on the Yellowstone. Blevins follows up that opening chapter with the equally mind-boggling saga of Hugh Glass, torn to shreds by a grizzly bear and left in the hands of two reluctant young caregivers who were annoyed when he didn’t die quickly. After they abandoned him, taking his rifle and supplies, he crawled and stumbled for 250 miles to Fort Kiowa. Blevins colorfully profiles several other hardy adventurers, including hardcore wanderer Jedediah Smith—men for whom it was natural when departing each other’s company to talk of a rendezvous two years down the line. Yet he dismisses the notion that they were vagabonding reprobates, pointing to their varied business interests. The author also unsnarls the competing agendas of the various fur-collecting agencies and ponders the sexual mores of natives and trappers. Most gratifyingly, he evokes the glories of the mountain men’s geography: the natural wonders they described from the Missouri River to the Sierra Nevada to the sere Southwest.

Wilderness stories that will leave you agape and agog.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-765-31435-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?