A thoughtful meditation that will appeal to animal lovers and readers interested in tales of small communities coming...




A freelance journalist’s account of a zoo that became the symbol of hope—and later, tragedy—for a small Nebraska town.

Dick Haskin never expected to open a zoo in tiny Royal, Nebraska. A farmer’s son who loved animals more than people, Haskin dreamed of working as a primatologist after watching a film about Jane Goodall in his early teens. However, when he graduated from college in 1983, he found he had to take jobs in zoos, which he “truly, viscerally, hated,” rather than Africa. But a chance meeting with Dian Fossey at a primatology conference brought with it the opportunity to work at her research center in Rwanda. Fossey’s murder not long afterward dashed Haskin’s original plan, but in its place arose another idea that involved opening a primate center in Royal. Haskin acquired a chimpanzee named Reuben and a trailer, but he set his sights on creating “a first-class facility” that would become both an important research center and a boon to the local economy. Despite climbing attendance and a donation from Nebraska native Johnny Carson, by the late 1980s, Haskin and his foundation were “running on fumes.” Bickering board members had no interest in raising the funds necessary to transform Haskin’s vision into reality. The center—later known as Zoo Nebraska—eventually fell into other hands that managed to expand the number of animal attractions and tourist visits but also earned the enduring enmity of larger zoos that saw ticket sales decline. Power struggles involving zoo directors and its board members also ensued. In 2005, Haskin’s quixotic dream ended in violence when law enforcement officials shot and killed three escaped primates, one of which was Reuben, Haskin’s “best friend.” In this easily digestible portrait of small-town life, Vaughan compassionately and understatedly traces the evolution of one man’s grand vision and the petty politics that destroyed it.

A thoughtful meditation that will appeal to animal lovers and readers interested in tales of small communities coming together.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0150-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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