A thought-provoking deep dive into a neighborhood that remains in perpetual transition.




An ambitious analysis of a singular neighborhood that in some ways serves as a microcosm for all urban neighborhoods.

“We live in neighborhoods, and neighborhoods live in us,” writes Rotella (Director, American Studies/Boston Coll.; Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories, 2012, etc.). The concept “describes both a place and a quality of feeling, a physical landscape and the flows of population, resources, and thought moving through it.” The neighborhood he specifically references is Chicago’s South Shore, where he and his parents moved as it was in the midst of transitioning from a mostly white neighborhood to one that is predominantly black. It also changed from a middle-class community into one blighted by drugs, crime, and gangs, one that has seen its only supermarket close and its bank as well, with empty storefronts lining what were once bustling streets and residents doing their shopping far from where they live. Yet its proximity to Lake Michigan and convenience to downtown transportation make it attractive. Consequently, the remaining black middle class fears that it will be gentrified out of the neighborhood, just as white residents fled to the suburbs as speculators warned that their property values were dropping because of the influx of black newcomers. As in much of the country, the recession of 2008 hit the neighborhood hard, and there has been as much tension between haves and have-nots as there has been between black and white citizens. As Rotella paints it, South Shore is a community where the center cannot hold, where the middle class is disappearing, where the well-to-do and the unemployed live in close proximity, and where younger activists who want to build bridges across the class divide meet resistance from older residents who wish to erect walls. The author offers a nuanced narrative, partly personal and partly sociological, that keeps circling back to the same important truths about race, class, community, poverty, and crime.

A thought-provoking deep dive into a neighborhood that remains in perpetual transition.

Pub Date: May 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-226-62403-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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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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