by Barbara Demick ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2020
Memorable voices inform a penetrating, absorbing history.
A portrait of one town reveals Tibet's tragic past.
Demick, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who served as its bureau chief in Beijing and Seoul, offers a vibrant, often heartbreaking history of Tibet, centered on Ngaba, which sits at 11,000 feet on the plateau where Tibet collides with China. The author made three trips to the town beginning in 2013, and she interviewed Tibetans in Ngaba and many others living abroad, including the Dalai Lama and an exiled princess, who spoke candidly about the culture, religion, and politics of the besieged region. Tibet has long been vulnerable to Chinese invasion: In the 1930s, Red Army soldiers, after ransacking farms and slaughtering animals, caused widespread famine. Desperate from hunger, they discovered that votive statues in the monasteries were sculpted from barley flour and butter and were forced into “literally eating the Buddha.” Demick chronicles decades of incursions, beginning in the 1950s, that resulted in cultural upheaval, economic hardship, and the deaths of about 300,000 Tibetans. Determined to sweep out religion, the Chinese demolished monasteries. Images of the Dalai Lama—or even mention of his name—incurred harsh punishment. Tibetans were herded into communes, where they could not even cook for themselves. Schoolchildren were indoctrinated to believe that the Communist Party “had liberated Tibet from serfdom.” By 1968, protests arose, demanding the “dismantling of the communes, the distribution of livestock to the people, and the right to reopen the monasteries.” Not surprisingly, the Communists refused, directing militias to intimidate and persecute the activists. The protests, Demick writes, “established Ngaba’s reputation for rebelliousness,” which intensified in 2009, when Ngaba became notorious for self-immolations, “an unequivocal register of discontent.” Although many Tibetans are grateful for the economic growth and technology that the Chinese have brought, the loss has been tremendous. “I have everything I might possibly want in life,” one Tibetan businessman told Demick, “but my freedom.”Memorable voices inform a penetrating, absorbing history.
Pub Date: July 28, 2020
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: May 13, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
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
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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