A lively journey, though getting back to the Garden turns out to be even more complicated than Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”...

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PARADISE LUST

SEARCHING FOR THE GARDEN OF EDEN

A freelance journalist debuts with a spirited chase through history, geography and religion as she chronicles the myriad and sometimes mad attempts to locate the Garden of Eden.

Wilensky-Lanford has certainly done her homework for this summary and analysis of the search for the “actual” Eden. Her journey began with a family story about a great-uncle who had toyed with locating Eden. As she began reading about the subject, she discovered its vast dimensions. After sketching the many earlier searches, she focuses on those within the last century, beginning with Boston University president William Fairfield Warren, who, in the late 19th century, placed Eden at the North Pole. Next: Friedrich Delitzsch, a German professor of Assyriology, argued for present-day Iraq and suggested that two of the four rivers mentioned in Genesis were actually canals. In 1901, the Rev. Edmund Landon West was convinced Eden had once lain in the area of Ohio’s Serpent Mound. A Chinese businessman proposed a China site in 1914; in 1919 William Willcocks saw the possibility of two Edens; and so on. Besides her chapters on the various theories of Eden’s location, Wilensky-Lanford offers sections on the recent history of the debate between science and religion, the explorations of Thor Heyerdahl, Mormonism, the use of satellite imagery to help pinpoint locations and the enduring meaning of “Eden.” She ends back in Iraq, in Qurna, site of the remains of the so-called “Tree of Knowledge.” Although the author occasionally cracks wise—she jokes about a gopher and Noah’s Ark—she generally treats the seekers with respect, sometimes more than they deserve.

A lively journey, though getting back to the Garden turns out to be even more complicated than Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” lyrics imagined.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8021-1980-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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