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



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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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