An overwrought, highly sentimental account of a worthy community service project.

LOVE CEMETERY

UNBURYING THE SECRET HISTORY OF SLAVES

A white writer who seems to have a wrenching epiphany on every page helps some black residents of east Texas clean up an abandoned, overgrown cemetery.

In The Bond Between Women (1998), Galland circled the globe to meet activists battling child prostitution, illiteracy, pollution and death squads. Here, she hangs around Texas to learn that racism is bad, that we all ought to get along and that Jesus is the way. It’s not a step forward in her work. She begins with a childhood memory of a spooky old house in her grandmother’s Dallas neighborhood, occupied by a weird white woman who once kept her Negro gardener prisoner in the attic. Galland says she learned then that in matters of race “the white narrative dominates and prevails and discredits and trivializes” other stories. Shifting to the east Texas countryside, she launches into the story of how she and some local black women went out to a cemetery named for the Love family (no one seemed to know who currently owned it), saw what a mess it was and decided to do something about it. The author started reading histories of Africa, the slave trade and Texas, doing interviews, conducting research in the county courthouse and historical society, arranging for videography. She attended the local Baptist church and found the congregation’s religious enthusiasm infectious, even revelatory. She helped round up volunteers to attack the wilderness reclaiming the cemetery. Throughout, Galland assumes readers know nothing about American racial history: She summarizes key moments in the civil-rights movement and tells us that during the Middle Passage “life in the ship’s hold was pure hell.” Though she says it’s dehumanizing to refer to people in slavery as “slaves,” her subtitle does just that. When she has a falling out with one of the black women working on the project, her self-flagellation and White Guilt reach epic proportions.

An overwrought, highly sentimental account of a worthy community service project.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-077931-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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