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Absorbing, comprehensive, and timely.

This history built around the rise and decline of the Communist Party of the United States of America is a case study in what happens when ideologies clash.

Developing the thesis that ideologies, no matter their actual tenets, tend to promote intolerance, injustice, and lockstep thinking, Marrin charts in his usual thoroughly documented way the upheavals in this country’s political and social climates between the Bolshevik Revolution and the meteoric rise and fall of Joseph McCarthy. He focuses particularly on the role of the CPUSA, characterizing it as an organization of idealists who, he asserts, did promote pacifism, women’s rights, and racial equality—if only to cause disruption and ease the spread of Communism—while turning stubbornly away from the brutal realities of Soviet society under Stalin (“…truly a monster,” the author writes with characteristic verve, “among the worst two or three humans who ever lived”). But, amid accounts of watershed events from Red Scares in 1919 and in the 1940s-’50s to the trials of the Scottsboro Boys, of rampant midcentury Soviet espionage, and the homophobic Lavender Scare purges of the McCarthy era, he also presents an only slightly less critical view of how anti-communism spurred government, business, the press, and organizations from the KKK to the ACLU to react (often badly) to the perceived threat. Readers will be gripped by the drama of past events that offer present-day lessons. Illustrations include photographs and printed propaganda.

Absorbing, comprehensive, and timely. (notes, selected sources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-64429-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Disturbing but compelling.

An eloquent memoir of teen drug abuse from 1970s Berlin retains a contemporary feel in a new translation.

Christiane F.'s story begins in childhood. Readers feel, from her 6-year-old perspective, the sense of frustration and restlessness that permeates the housing projects of Gropiusstadt and her father's violent punishments for mild infractions. At 12, she first tries alcohol, hashish and LSD, and the experiences are described with evocative imagery. That Christiane will ultimately become addicted to heroin is apparent from the first page, and a sense of tragic inevitability pervades each early anecdote. Christiane paints a grim portrait of the drugs-and–sex-work scene around Berlin's Zoo Station, but readers will also see the sense of fraught community that develops among Christiane and her friends. The strong pull of heroin is never clearer than when, after four days of brutal withdrawal, Christiane talks herself into having “one last and final fix.” Short chapters written by Christiane's mother and a social worker, a photo spread, a foreword and editorial footnotes help contextualize Christiane's life in West Berlin. Readers might, however, wish for more information about how the memoir came to be published, and a note about HIV infection (not a possibility in Christiane's time, but certainly a risk now) would also be helpful.

Disturbing but compelling. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936976-22-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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While the voice is authentic, this book is an experience, not a crafted narrative.

The posthumous memoir of a drug-abusing teen who died of cystic fibrosis.

Living in suburban Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, Mary Rose uses her journal, addressed to “Dear Nobody,” to chronicle her daily life: She’s bored, frequently on the outs with her mom and searching for something. She hangs out at the nearby rope swing with other teens, drinking and doing drugs, getting arrested and hoping to find a friend—or even better, a boyfriend. But things change when Mary Rose has to deal with something she isn’t facing head-on: She suffers from cystic fibrosis, and her condition is deteriorating due to her drinking and drug use. Mary Rose attempts to turn over a new leaf only to fall back into drinking and suffers a new tragedy. Yet through it all, as her body begins to give out, Mary Rose strives for peace through religion and searches for a connection with other people. Edited from Mary Rose’s journals after her death, this memoir necessarily suffers from the absence of an authorial hand, shifting abruptly from Mary Rose’s party-girl ways to her medical suffering. Mary Rose evidently never had a chance to reflect on the total arc of her written narrative, forcing readers to glean meaning from the disparate, angst-filled entries or just go with the flow.

While the voice is authentic, this book is an experience, not a crafted narrative. (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8758-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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