THE THIRTY YEARS' WARS

DISPATCHES AND DIVERSIONS OF A RADICAL JOURNALIST, 1965-1994

An absorbing stroll down a potholed, rubble-strewn memory lane with a leading left-wing journalist. The late Kopkind (Decade of Crisis, not reviewed, etc.), a regular contributor to stalwarts like the Nation and more ephemeral publications like Hard Times and Ramparts, possessed both the hard eye of the streetwise reporter and the historical depth of a scholar. This highly unusual combination is everywhere evident in this anthology of his work, which begins with the civil rights movement in the Deep South in the early '60s and ends with gay- rights activism in New York City in 1994. Reading through Kopkind's literate reporting, one revisits flashes of recent history: the ``morality playlet'' of Joe Namath's forced resignation from professional football for owning a bar in which gambling took place while the owner of the New York Jets owned a racetrack in New Jersey and put big money on the Super Bowl; Janis Joplin's dawning awareness of her lesbianism and the effects that self-knowledge had on her soon-to-end career (``even her death is not her own; it merely extends the metaphor''); the abundant hypocrisies attendant at the Woodstock festival (``an environment created by a couple of hip entrepreneurs to consolidate the culture revolution and extract the money of its troops''); Pee-Wee Herman's big misadventure in a Florida porno theater (``don't think you can survive as a rebel, however hilarious, in TV's well-fortified cultural garrison''). Whether writing of the machinations of Black Panthers and Green Berets, the Bay of Pigs, the Stonewall riots, disco, or modern literature, Kopkind commands extraordinary grace and vision—and an extraordinary ability to delight and rile at the same moment. Shelve this collection next to the best writings of I.F. Stone and H.L. Mencken in that great library of books that torment the comfortable.

Pub Date: June 15, 1995

ISBN: 1-85984-902-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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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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