A useful historical survey, though arguably more for serious inquirers than tourists.

THE TURKS TODAY

A dense look at the modern history of Turkey, focusing on human conflict and bureaucratic details.

In a sequel to Atatürk (2000), Mango takes up the story of modern Turkey from Atatürk’s demise, necessitating that he address both Turkey’s years of violent tumult and its emergence as a competitive, technologically advanced nation. In his first section, Mango traces several distinct narratives of conflict and compromise from 1938 to the present. The wartime President, Ismet Inönü, skillfully played his country’s interests against both Allies and Axis, continuing a political pattern of Turkey being shepherded by a wily strongman. In the 1950s, ten years of Democrat party rule produced substantial technological and agricultural gains and advanced the government’s ambitious desire for NATO membership, yet also established underlying causes of domestic unrest. In the 1960s and 1970s, Turkey’s growing pains were all too evident: its controversial military occupation of Cyprus was merely the public face of a complicated and bitter civil fight that resulted in numerous assassinations and street killings. Ironically, it took a 1980 military coup that restored law and order “by draconian means” to begin a return to the forward-looking secularism first espoused by Atatürk. In his second section, Mango systematically examines the country’s present achievements in economics and education and the transformations that are still underway in the revered cities of Ankara and Istanbul (the putative centers of government and cultural achievement, respectively). Throughout, Mango seems fascinated by the minutiae, a quality that lends his book the feel of a nation’s lived experience. Still, it’s easy for a reader to get lost among the shifting sands of conspiracy and commerce. Although Mango begins his survey by noting that “The unevenness of modernization and of material progress makes it hard to sum up the state of Turkey today,” it’s clear by the time he concludes that the Turks remain a forward-looking and pragmatic people.

A useful historical survey, though arguably more for serious inquirers than tourists.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2005

ISBN: 1-58567-615-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2004

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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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