WALKING WITH THE COMRADES

In a well-documented indictment, investigative journalist Roy (Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy, 2009, etc.) presents the case against the Indian government’s murderous policies toward the country’s tribal population.

These three linked articles/essays, rendered with a disarming blend of passion and precision, tell the story of India’s tribal people and the violence and neglect they have suffered at the hands of the Indian state. Their land is rich in natural resources and has become the target of takeover by the corporate elite, aided and abetted by a corrupt government and, thus, by the military. This takeover is being conducted in conjunction with Operation Green Hunt, a program aimed at eradicating the Maoist insurgency that has been taking place for decades in the tribal lands, and that has the earmarks of the Sri Lanka solution—kill them all and let heaven do the sorting—and George W. Bush’s binary system: for us or against us. Not only does Roy go out and get involved, she examines every shade of gray while spending weeks with the young insurgents to get under their skin. She writes with a ringing clarity that should bring down a measure of opprobrium to shame the Indian political establishment. The concluding piece, bathed in a sense of cynicism that readers will feel Roy is entitled to, details how the Indian constitution has been traduced by everyone from the parliament to the press to the police. A bell-clear exposé of corporate greed and governmental malfeasance that should—if there is any justice in the world—provoke a furious backlash in the name of human dignity.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-14-312059-9

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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