A remarkable testament to the power of investigative journalism in the face of lies and careless rumor.

The Beslan Massacre: Myths & Facts

An investigative review of the notorious Beslan massacre that thoroughly pieces together a version of what really happened, debunking long-standing mythology along the way.

Burakov, in his journalistic debut, wanted to present the whole truth, following the evidence wherever it led. The result is a fearless examination that anatomizes every available shred of evidence and relentlessly interrogates every rumor that previously masqueraded as fact. In September 2004, armed assailants stormed a school in Beslan, North Ossetia. They planted explosives and took hundreds of hostages, many of them students. Burakov scrutinizes the nature of the terrorist organization that perpetrated the attack, then compares the roles of the local police versus the Federal Security Service of Russia and tries to discern the true cause of the catastrophic explosions that took place in the gymnasium. He grimly reveals the full extent of the casualties, which mortify the official number. Helpfully, the book provides ample background information, detailing the region’s troubled history from the 18th century through two Chechen wars and up to the present. The reasons for the current welter of misinformation regarding the Beslan massacre turn out to be as morbidly fascinating as the massacre itself: a grotesque amalgam of Russian governmental spin, contradictory witness accounts, and the bias of the Western press. In the aftermath of the debacle, rhetoric about the massacre became a craven political tool. “With the Russian government maintaining silence, the informational space related to coverage of Beslan naturally came under the control of sources in opposition to the government and to the President. The massive smear campaign resulted in unofficial alliances of parties so dissimilar in nature that it would almost be unimaginable for them to work together in any other situation.” And, he says, the battle for truth isn’t over. “Remnants of the fight have continued for years after the crisis and have shifted to social media causing the splitting of the Internet world into pro- and anti-government camps.” What emerges from Burakov’s analysis is much more than a vivid picture of one terrible event; it’s also a look at an entire region in the throes of dysfunction.

A remarkable testament to the power of investigative journalism in the face of lies and careless rumor.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1500400965

Page Count: 420

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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