Lustgarten’s account, both journalistic and historical, is a welcome addition to the literature of Tibetan enslavement.

CHINA’S GREAT TRAIN

BEIJING’S DRIVE WEST AND THE REMAKING OF TIBET

A careful account of the Chinese expansion into the Tibetan Plateau, accelerated by the completion of the world’s highest railroad.

Fortune contributing writer Lustgarten notes that China has been working to incorporate Tibet wholly into its sphere since the invasion of 1959, when the Dalai Lama was forced into exile. To the chagrin of Communist technocrats, however, China could never quite figure out how to fund highways and other corridors of transport into the high country until recently, with the result that “Tibet’s infrastructure in the decades since [1959] had remained more tied to India and Nepal than to Beijing—something Chinese nationalists found excruciatingly untenable.” Thanks to President Jiang Zemin’s “Go West” development initiative, though, Chinese settlers have pushed ever westward, resettling millions of ethnic Chinese into the remote interior. An important vehicle was the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, begun in 2001, which picked up on a failed effort begun and abandoned in 1979. The mountainous region, “shockingly inhospitable to the lowlander Chinese,” has since been sprouting factories, shopping centers, housing developments—and prisons, of course, for China has been striving to break the back of the Tibetan freedom movement. This train would, its builders hoped, “finally provide a permanent, intractable link between Tibet and China,” if only by introducing enough ethnic Chinese into the region to outnumber the Tibetan population, and thus converting a backward place full of supposedly docile people into another industrial powerhouse. Reporters remarking on such developments, such as the Swiss journalist Jean-Marie Jolidon, have been summarily expelled from China. Lustgarten had better luck, but it is clear that he asked hard questions along the way, including ones to establish how expensive the whole railway project has turned out to be: about $4.5 billion, perhaps much more.

Lustgarten’s account, both journalistic and historical, is a welcome addition to the literature of Tibetan enslavement.

Pub Date: May 13, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8324-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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