Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

THE ARBORNAUT

A LIFE DISCOVERING THE EIGHTH CONTINENT IN THE TREES ABOVE US

A riveting memoir from “Canopy Meg,” a pioneer in treetop science.

Lowman, biologist and director of the TREE Foundation, points out that a scientist learning about a tree by studying its trunk makes as much sense as a doctor examining a patient by examining the big toe. But that’s how it was done for centuries. Just as scuba gear inspired more advanced ocean research during the 1950s, ropes and harnesses opened up treetops in the 1980s. Calling forest canopies the eighth continent is no exaggeration. “Upward of half of all terrestrial creatures,” writes Lowman, “live about one hundred feet or more above our heads….Across more than sixty thousand species of trees, nearly every one hosts unique communities.” The author excelled in a discipline in which she was often the only woman and succeeded despite encounters with discouragement and harassment. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in the U.S., a masters in Scotland, and a doctorate in Australia, Lowman plunged into field research, teaching, speaking, and becoming the “mother of canopy research.” Her obsession became foliage—not a gripping subject except in her hands. Part of a complex architecture, leaves on a single tree differ dramatically. Larger and darker lower leaves efficiently use tiny amounts of light that filter down. Top foliage is smaller, thicker, and bright green: a high-powered chlorophyll factory suited to hot, sunny conditions. Eventually, Lowman turned her attention to the universe of largely unknown insects that feed off the leaves. While some publications cite about 5% to 8% annual defoliation, the author discovered that canopies routinely suffer up to 25% damage. Lowman ends her chronological account halfway through, devoting the remainder to lively descriptions of her discoveries, educational activities, and conservation advocacy. With more than 15 billion trees cut down each year and climate change accelerating insect losses, she urges advocates of protecting endangered animals to pay more attention to the destruction of the forests they inhabit.

Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-16269-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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