A saddening, maddening story that draws much-needed attention to crime without punishment in a remote—but not invisible—part...

THE THIRD BANK OF THE RIVER

POWER AND SURVIVAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY AMAZON

Journalistic account of the rush to develop the Amazon rainforest and its cost in human lives.

When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or Lula, became president of Brazil in 2002, he did so, writes Brazil-born, U.S.–raised journalist Arnold, by “rallying frustrated Brazilians around a call for sustainable development and a commitment to social justice.” Those planks would not apply in the backwaters of the Amazon, for Lula also pressed for development that would make Brazil economically independent and even a power. For a while, it worked: The commodities market surged, poor Brazilians entered the middle class, middle-class Brazilians became rich, and everyone was happy. Except, that is, the undiscovered, “isolated” Indians of the interior, whose territory was overrun by miners and loggers and who were forcefully reminded continually that “poison-tipped arrows are no match for automatic rifles.” There may be as many as 100 of these isolated tribes, writes the author, a greater number than anywhere in the world. Many of them are square in the path of annihilation, not just because of that rush into the rainforest for its hidden riches, but also due to a shrinking gene pool and diseases introduced from outside. Arnold chronicles his visits with scholars who are attempting to locate and account for these people without disrupting their lives, but theirs, too, is a race against time. As he observes, one Indian village that had been identified was soon thereafter abandoned and the location of the villagers unknown, even as “intelligence on the ground confirmed invaders nearby, wildcat prospectors on a quest for gold.” The prognosis is grim. And so, too, is it for civil society in that developing outback, where, as Arnold writes, “extermination groups” and a militarized police force suppress dissent, the latter “blurring lines and rewriting laws with righteous badges in their pockets and handguns in their glove compartments.”

A saddening, maddening story that draws much-needed attention to crime without punishment in a remote—but not invisible—part of the world.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09894-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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