Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras,...

NIGHT

A MEMOIR

A reissue of Wiesel’s (Open Heart, 2012, etc.) foundational, exemplary memoir of the Holocaust.

Even though bracketed by post-mortem appreciations by Barack Obama, genocide scholar and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, and Wiesel’s son Elisha and including Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech and lecture and a commemorative address before the U.N., Night is a slender book, just a shade more than 100 pages long. But it packs a whole world—perhaps better, a whole inferno—into that brief span, much trimmed from a draft reported to be eight times longer. As the memoir opens, Wiesel is a schoolboy in a Transylvanian town, studying with a wise scholar named Moishe the Beadle, who liked to say, “Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him.” The great question that emerges as events sweep in, brought to Sighet on German troop transports and Hungarian police vans, is, of course, why? No fully satisfactory answer ever emerges from Wiesel’s tour of the hell that ensues, as the ghetto—“ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion”—gives way to the concentration camp and its endless brutalities, administered by Germans and kapos alike. As he recounts the flight before the advancing Red Army deep into a collapsing Germany, Wiesel draws on the voices of many of his fellow inmates, one of whom memorably says of Adolf Hitler, “he alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” Only the promise of utter extermination goes unfulfilled, leaving the author to contemplate the dead man walking that he has become when the camp is finally liberated: “The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.”

Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras, and it deserves to be read and reread for decades to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-22199-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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