Written with all the flair and enthusiasm of an experienced writer eager to share her love of her subject.




Memoir of a food-and-travel journalist who displays her love of archaeology.

Bahrami (Historic Walking Guides: Madrid, 2009, etc.) covers events from 2010 to 2015, most of them at the dig at La Ferrassie in France, where seven nearly complete Neanderthal skeletons were found. The author describes her position as “the upstairs-downstairs journalist-crew-anthropologist folded into [a] camp of some thirty quirky, very opinionated, very international, and very bright archaeologists and students as they worked into one of the great mysteries of the human journey on earth.” Interviews and informal conversations with these men and women abound as Bahrami picks their brains about their work. Debates center on how much Neanderthals were like modern humans. Did they have language and symbolic thought? Did they participate in rituals, such as burial of the dead? Though Bahrami does not provide all the answers, she effectively portrays the rich atmosphere at a dig. Over good food and drink after a day’s work, she talked to the scientists, seeking different perspectives, and she quotes their opinions at length. In addition, she came to know and appreciate the local amateur prehistory experts who are invariably proud of the fact that Neanderthals once thrived in their area. Bahrami’s technique results in lots of repetition and some entertaining but extraneous information; however, this is not intended to be a textbook but rather a memoir and an amiable introduction to a bit of prehistory. In one chapter, the author concentrates on what the science of genetics has brought to the study of the migrations out of Africa, to the evolution of modern man, and to our closest kin, the Neanderthals, with whom we share 99.7 percent of our DNA.

Written with all the flair and enthusiasm of an experienced writer eager to share her love of her subject.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-777-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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