Required reading on a topic that can only grow in importance to readers who will be living that “social, political, and...

BLACK GOLD

THE STORY OF OIL IN OUR LIVES

Opinionated, cogent perspectives on the role of fossil fuels in human history.

Following a doubtless accurate claim that controlling the supply of oil and finding substitutes for the stuff “will shape much of the social, political, and military history of the twenty-first century,” Marrin opens with a petro-centric tale of wars. These range from an Egyptian conflict in the 4th century BCE to the War on Terror (“really the war for oil in disguise,” he suggests) and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He also reviews the course of the Industrial Revolution (noting that automobiles were initially welcomed as being “cleaner, healthier, and safer” than horses), then goes on to analyze the hazards of our oil dependence, recap major oil spills and consider both the benefits and dangers of alternative energy sources. Well-surveyed territory this all may be, but the author’s beneficent portrait of John D. Rockefeller, his references to British “terrorism” in the Middle East and other heterodox views give it distinctive angles. Moreover, the urgency of his message that something has to change comes through clearly.

Required reading on a topic that can only grow in importance to readers who will be living that “social, political, and military history.” (endnotes, index, black-and-white photos) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86673-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories.

BOY FROM BUCHENWALD

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Following his liberation from the Buchenwald death camp, Romek didn’t know how to reclaim his humanity.

Romek’s childhood in his Polish shtetl of Skarżysko-Kamienna, where he was the youngest of six loving siblings, wasn’t wealthy, but it was idyllic. Skarżysko-Kamienna was “forests and birdsong,” with “the night sky stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.” His family was destroyed and their way of life obliterated with the Nazi invasion of Poland, and Romek lost not just memories, but the accompanying love. Unlike many Holocaust memoirs, this painfully lovely story begins in earnest after the liberation, when Romek was among 1,000 Jewish orphans, the Buchenwald Boys, in need of rehabilitation. Having suffered years of starvation, disease, and being treated as animals, the boys were nearly feral: They fought constantly, had forgotten how to use forks, and set fire to their French relief camp dormitory. Some adults thought they were irredeemable. With endless patience, care, and love, the mentors and social workers around them—themselves traumatized Holocaust survivors—brought Romek back from the brink. Even in a loving and protective environment, in a France where the boys were treated overwhelmingly kindly by the populace, it took time to remember goodness. Parallels between anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. and Canada are gentle but explicit.

Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories. (historical note, timeline) (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0600-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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