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FIDEL AND GABO

A PORTRAIT OF THE LEGENDARY FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN FIDEL CASTRO AND GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

A frenetic look at the controversial friendship between a literary and a political giant.

On April 9, 1948, following the assassination of revolutionary political leader Jorge Gaitán, two law students joined the rioting on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia. Though they didn’t yet know each other, the momentous night made a significant impact on both men—Fidel Castro has now famously written about seeing amid the chaos a young man with a typewriter. That man was Nobel Prize–winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Nearly ten years later, Márquez, then a journalist, moved to Havana to cover the Castro revolution and was so inspired by the leader that he opened first the Bogotá and then the North American branch of Prensa Latina, Castro’s news agency. From this collaboration a friendship blossomed. For literature fans, Márquez’s political activism might come as a surprise. Prior to the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967, the author and his family suffered from crippling poverty. Even after his international success, he believed that Castro’s politics were the answer to the many social and economic problems plaguing Latin America. Historians Esteban (Latin American Literature/Univ. of Granada) and Panichelli (Modern Languages/Wingate Univ.) chronicle the friendship through a list-like description of events that, while peppered with analysis, is hardly a riveting narrative. The authors’ research is careful and thorough, and details of the friendship humanize both legendary figures. However, Márquez also wrote about this profound friendship in his memoir, Living to Tell the Tale (2002), and his version is compelling and moving in a way that this second-person account could never be.

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Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-60598-058-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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