The second review (in Kirkus Reviews)

Last week, the first review of my book came out, by one of the two major trade publications, Publishers Weekly. Now the other one, Kirkus Reviews, has followed with its review of my book. The folks at Kirkus call themselves “the world’s toughest book critics,” which is great, because they also seem to like the book.

Here is the link.

Unfortunately, it’s behind a subscriber wall (although articles become free a few weeks before publication of the books reviewed in them).


… The author narrates Hannibal’s story with precision, but his analysis extends beyond the highlights of the battlefield. In this retelling of the ancient drama, the major players become archetypes whose motivations, triumphs and failures mirror those of more recent historical figures. The influence of Carl Jung pervades as the narrative as Kluth digs into their psyches—examples include author Amy Tan’s teenage rebellion, Eleanor Roosevelt’s loneliness and Albert Einstein’s dark side—to create a plausible formula for surviving disaster or even sudden, explosive success. Though brief, the contemporary examples bridge the gap between modern readers and the ancient world. …

I especially liked this passage:

[Kluth’s] desire for a balanced life (and European disdain for ostentation) makes his voice unique among others who analyze the nuances of greatness. Kluth follows each character beyond the key moments that defined their places in history to determine the value of their lives as a whole, from the rise and fall of their careers to their evolving relationships with families and friends. The result is a study of the ephemeral nature of power that grapples, often very effectively, with the meaning of true happiness.

Meatier than the average self-help book, Hannibal and Me is a rare blend of military strategy and emotional intelligence that offers a more mature solution for winning life’s battles.

Also, I’m very intrigued indeed by the “Books Similar to Hannibal and Me” they have chosen. (Follow the link and look.) The first one: “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl.

Frankl is not in my book (he was at one point, but I had to cut). But Frankl has, of course, featured prominently here on The Hannibal Blog:

What excellent company to be in. Thank you, Kirkus!

27 thoughts on “The second review (in Kirkus Reviews)

    • Yes, I figured it out. And thanks for doing that — it reminded me of your grand project in NZ. Absolutely amazing.

      If I may ask: How is that grand project going? Are you succeeded at turning your part of NZ into forest state?

    • Thanks for asking! Winter down here is the tree planting season and we’ve just finished for the year. We exceeded our goal this year and got in a little over 24,000 trees thanks to lots of fantastic volunteers. With spring coming we are starting maintenance and infrastructure projects and are putting in walking tracks and starting weed control. You can see what we’ve been up to by checking out the entries in the What’s New section of the web site:

    • An excellent question, Philippe, so I looked it up: Here is the review of Wolf Hall.

      One extract: “Although Mantel’s language is original, evocative and at times wittily anachronistic, this minute exegesis of a relatively brief, albeit momentous, period in English history occasionally grows tedious. The characters, including Cromwell, remain unknowable, their emotions closely guarded; this works well for court intrigues, less so for fiction.”

      As you recall from my own review of Wolf Hall, those were my feelings exactly. (But I do recall that you had a very different opinion. :))

    • Thanks, Patrick.

      I’m getting all weak-kneed now that I have a great Hannibal scholar (you) following along. Sort of like Brad Pitt learning his lines for Achilles, and suddenly getting a comment from … Homer. 😉

    • But of course I was one of them.

      Would you like to guess which color I was?

      Oh, that would take too long. I was orange (but I had to leave before the debate ended, so I was overrepresented in the start).

    • You, Jenny, I miss your sprezzatura. Post something.

      (I might not do the brain thread after all. When I heard that the poetry of e.e. cummings was going to be a weapon for the opposition I disarmed unilaterally.)

      Anyway, talk about unique voice. You have it. Mr Crotchety has it. When is your joint book coming out again?

    • That’s a response with Kluth charm! Thanks, Andreas. I will post, I’m sure.

      As for the brain, I bet you’ll write about it eventually. Timing. I’ll keep my poems in my pocket.

      I’m calling my joint book with Mr. C (pending his approval, of course) “Crotchety and Me” — a little homage, and one that scans.

      Congratulations, again!

  1. Excellent. Orange would have been my guess.

    I’ll read it again with that in mind.

    (Or, per our conversation under your Cicero post, should what else I know about the author of the orange lines not affect my reading of it? :P)

  2. Hi Andreas,
    I’d say that to have your book compared in the same breath (review) to Frankl’s, is just about the highest compliment a reviewer could give. My, my. You can exhale now.

  3. Does the phrase “meatier than the average self-help book” mean that H&M will be shelved in Self Help and not Leadership? 

    If it’s “a rare blend of military strategy and emotional intelligence” then “military strategy” suggests Leadership. But “emotional intelligence” dictates Self Help.

    Perhaps it will mandate a section all its own: Meatier Self Help.

    • I too have puzzled over that phrase. I don’t know what it means.

      That whole question of “which aisle at B&N will it be in?” is one that has tormented me and my publisher since the beginning. I did not chose a category when I had the idea, so I did not write a book to fit in one. But that leaves me vulnerable. Depending on what label is slapped on it, it might get a very different crowd.

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