A stellar collection.

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WRITTEN INTO HISTORY

PULITZER PRIZE REPORTING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

All Pulitzer, all the time: Dozens of classy—by turns subversive, condemning, and exploratory—pieces of journalism from the New York Times.

Since 1918, the Times has received some 81 Pulitzers, and this collection showcases some of the best of them. Intelligently introduced by Times columnist Lewis, the articles range from criticism to scientific discoveries to investigative reporting. Much of this work is so good it still remains fresh in the mind after, in some cases, decades: David Halberstam telling it like it was in the Vietnam of 1963; moving elegies by John Burns for the civil war–torn Sarajevo; and Sydney Schanberg reporting on the descent of Cambodia into the hellish hands of the Khmer Rouge. There are also less-touted articles packing a fresh sting, such as John Crewdson's investigation into the virtual slave exchange of Spanish-speaking aliens in the US. On-the-spot reporting of breaking news is ably illustrated by Nicholas Kristoff's article on the violent retaking of Tiananmen Square from Chinese protestors and John Burns, again, telling of the low doings of Afghanistan's Taliban, but—unforgivably—the report from Thomas Friedman on the Sabra/Shatila massacre is nowhere to be found. Nan Robertson's story on her experience with toxic shock syndrome is in the best tradition of personal reporting, the kind of material that makes your pulse race as you devour the terrible story. Finally, there is the beauty of fine writing, writing that had to be churned out on the spot, under a deadline minutes away, as when Red Smith reported: “New York City is tapped out like a broken horse player and nobody—not Abe Beame nor the town's smartest bankers nor the best fiscal brains in Albany and Washington—knows what to do about it.”

A stellar collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6849-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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