Candid and heartfelt.

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HOME IS A ROOF OVER A PIG

AN AMERICAN FAMILY'S JOURNEY IN CHINA

A miltary wife turned ESL instructor's sharp-eyed account of how the adoption of a Chinese baby girl led to her family's life-changing decision to live and work in rural China.

Soon after Arrington adopted her Chinese-born daughter Grace in 2004, “something began to nag at [her].” She knew that she would be giving the child a family and opportunities that would be unavailable in China, but at the same time, she would also be taking away an essential part of Grace's identity. Consequently, she and her retired military husband decided to become ESL teachers and move their family to China. “Grace's adoption gave a Chinese heritage to our whole family,” she writes. In 2006, they traveled to the city of Tai'an in rural China, where they took jobs at a small medical college. Assimilation did not come easily: Not only were they Westerners, but they were also a “three-child family in a one-child world.” Arrington became fascinated by her adopted country and its contradictions, but many aspects of its culture, including the authoritarianism and disparaging attitudes toward women, disheartened her. What especially troubled her as a teacher was the way the students, whose minds she had hoped to change, clung to parochial ideas and practices, especially regarding matters of education and politics. Gradually, however, she realized that the freedom she so cherished as an American was an abstract concept that paled in comparison to “real things like family and security” for the Chinese. Arrington neither romanticizes nor demonizes Chinese culture, and she learned to love it despite its limitations.

Candid and heartfelt.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59020-899-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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 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

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