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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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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