ALWAYS, RACHEL

THE LETTERS OF RACHEL CARSON AND DOROTHY FREEMAN, 1952-1964

A profusion of artful letters, the greater part from the mellifluous pen of Carson, detailing everyday life while writing The Edge of the Sea and Silent Spring. It's a wonder that Carson ever had a spare moment to churn out her books, considering the sheer tonnage of letters she produced and the obvious care and attention that went into every one. The letters from Freeman — Carson's Maine coast neighbor — can also be a pleasure, with their descriptive energy (editor Martha Freeman is her daughter), but the bulk are Carson's, and there lies the main interest. Carson's letters are deeply personal, and access to them has the quality of secretly sharing an intimate conversation floating over from a nearby café table: "... always the sense of your presence, and your sweet tenderness, and love was very real to me." There are forays into nature writing, with much birding and poking around tidal pools; and — this is the correspondence of two friends, after all — there's talk of furniture and clothes, hair styles and manicures. Carson, not surprisingly, is most compelling when expressing how she feels about her writing: her fears concerning its quality; the frustrations and satisfactions of research; the joys of having William Shawn tell her that the first draft of Silent Spring (which was serialized in the New Yorker) was "a brilliant achievement...full of beauty and loveliness and depth of feeling." Medical problems plagued both the Carson and Freeman families; Carson's later letters are riddled with one bit of bad news after the next, from rheumatoid arthritis to iriditis, to metastasized cancer. Yet her gradual decline is related so sparingly and with such mettle, it is overpowering. Darting, fresh, sensuous, pleasingly elliptical at times, these letters also serve to tether the increasingly deified Carson firmly to earth — just where she'd want to be.

Pub Date: March 20, 1995

ISBN: 0807070114

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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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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