Honest, forthright self-examination engenders a well-wrought sense of shared destiny.



Perceptive, endearing look at the often fraught contacts between Maoris and Westerners, both in history and in the personal life of Harvard Review editor Thompson.

Two decades ago, while on vacation from her graduate studies in literature of the Pacific at the University of Melbourne, the Boston-raised author met a Maori man in Kerikeri, New Zealand. She and Seven (so-named because he is the seventh of ten children) fell in love, married, had three children and lived all over the Pacific before moving in with her parents near Boston. Thompson mingles this personal story with a candid examination of persistent, troubling issues of race and stereotype in the history of the two cultures’ encounters. The first was in 1642, when Dutch captain Abel Janszoon Tasman named the New Zealand inlet where his ships lay anchored “Murderers’ Bay” after a deadly collision with the local Maoris. Subsequent accounts, including those by Cook and Darwin, underscored the indigenous tribes’ “bellicose” nature, yet the author points out that the Maoris’ warlike image was most likely a byproduct of Western contact. Similarly, the initial bewilderment and misunderstanding between the two cultures experienced when she and Seven first met could easily have marred their relationship. Thompson gently portrays her husband’s decidedly non-Western worldview: his resistance to planning for the future, his superstitiousness and his sense of communalism. It challenged her ingrained notions of class and race, and it also occasionally supported the Noble Savage stereotype. “What was funny about living with Seven,” she writes, “was the way those musty paradigms…would periodically spring to life.” She closes with a heartfelt letter to the couple’s three sons, each containing “a little bit of the conqueror and conquered,” asking them not to be sentimental about their dual ancestry since, in the end, their parents aren’t as different as they look.

Honest, forthright self-examination engenders a well-wrought sense of shared destiny.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59691-126-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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