DEAD SEASON

A STORY OF MURDER AND REVENGE ON THE PHILIPPINE ISLAND OF NEGROS

A former NPR correspondent chronicles three political murders near the central Philippine city of Himamaylan, where, in the late 1980s, liberation theologists, Communists, and the Philippine army vied for power. The murders occurred in a barrio whose Tagalog name means ``place of the ghosts,'' and it often seems that Berlow is chasing ghosts in his synthesis of some 200 interviews with army officers, priests, and rebel operatives. He focuses on Reynaldo ``Moret'' De los Santos, massacred along with his family by army officers, but why? Moret, like most Negros island peasants, had a hard time making a living; he worked in the sugar fields, did odd jobs for a plantation owner, and indulged his passion for cockfights. He hardly seemed important enough to kill, but he was enthusiastic about the Church's local BCC (Basic Christian Community), and the BCCs were often sympathetic to the Communists. Since the case proved embarrassing for the army, the murder may have been nothing but a brutal mistake. And yet as she was dying, Moret's wife scrawled out the name ``Moroy.'' Moroy was a friend of Moret's, but they'd had a falling out, and Moroy was possibly an army informant. The Communists acknowledged killing Moroy; they may also have killed the soldier directly responsible for Moret's death. But were the soldier's and Moret's assassinations political reprisals or mere revenge? Why was so much blood spilled for such small stakes? Berlow explores every nuance of this haunting tale without ever quite nailing it down. But he does offer a vivid portrait of a sad, overpopulated country, divided by class and poverty, still hostage to the legacies of American colonialism and Ferdinand Marcos, and whose patterns of violence and retribution seem unconquerable.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42664-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more