A scintillating poke to our geographical imaginations.

UNRULY PLACES

LOST SPACES, SECRET CITIES, AND OTHER INSCRUTABLE GEOGRAPHIES

A wonderful collection of a few dozen geographical enchantments, places that defy expectations and may disturb and disorient yet rekindle the romanticism of exploration and the meaning of place.

“We are headed for uncharted territory, to places found on few maps and sometimes on none. They are both extraordinary and real. This is a book of floating islands, dead cities, and hidden kingdoms,” writes Bonnett (Social Geography/Newcastle Univ.; Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia, 2010, etc.). The book is a whole lot more: a passionate defense of place and a swing at the “generic blandscapes” that have come to occupy much of the landscape, eating away at our sense of self, especially as a place-making species with an appreciation that our presence helps give the world its local color—that we create place as much as we inhabit it. Bonnett does not bring a zealot’s nuttiness to the cause, but his ability to get under the skin of a place—places that are often fierce, dark, demanding and strange—brings geography back into focus as integral to human identity. They are, by and large, outré: decoy villages set aflame to confuse nighttime aircraft bombers; trash islands; exclaves and breakaways; pirate towns; free territories established by runaway slaves; Potemkin villages and forbidden places (black sites). The author chronicles his exploration of St. Petersburg to witness the politics of place names and Mecca to experience Jane Jacobs’ worst nightmare. There are “urban exploration as a kind of geographical version of surrealist automatic writing” and landscapes “the British police designate as public sex environments.” And there are the disappeared: ancient sultanates, a blue-asbestos mining town, a closed city once dedicated to making nuclear weapons. Bonnett brings us to each place from an angle of surprise and wonder.

A scintillating poke to our geographical imaginations.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10157-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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