Few conservatives will change their minds, but Cumings makes a convincing case that Korea, not Vietnam, was the first modern...

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THE KOREAN WAR

A HISTORY

An eloquent, squirm-inducing account of the war's long background and murderous destruction, which began well before the fighting.

Cumings (History/Univ. of Chicago; Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power, 2009, etc.) dismisses the convention that war was launched in 1950 by Stalin's puppet, Kim Il Sung, and ended in 1953. It began, he maintains, in 1931-32 when Japan invaded Manchuria and, as a civil war, hasn't yet ended. Nearby Korea, a Japanese colony, provided most of the resistance. To suppress these resisters, Japan recruited Koreans willing to collaborate, and many rose to high positions. After Japan's 1945 surrender, Kim's circle organized a government in the Soviet-occupied North. The collaborators moved south and, in 1950, formed nearly all of the command of South Korea's army. Ignorant of Korean hatred of Japan, U.S. forces occupying the South retained the colonial system, appointed collaborators to high positions and imported Syngman Rhee from the United States as leader. Knowing which American buttons to push, Rhee announced that he faced vast communist subversion and proceeded to brutally eliminate opposition. Following the war's outbreak, the American media described numerous civilian massacres as North Korean atrocities. Only recently have historians—and declassified U.S. government papers—made known that South Korea committed most of them. American conservatives regularly denounce Cumings for favoring North Korea, but he is widely honored in South Korea, whose researchers have turned up many of the long-suppressed atrocities he reveals.

Few conservatives will change their minds, but Cumings makes a convincing case that Korea, not Vietnam, was the first modern war America entered abysmally ignorant of what it was getting into.

Pub Date: July 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-679-64357-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Modern Library

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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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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