An important, little-known history that offers much truth and little reconciliation.

THE LONG HONDURAN NIGHT

RESISTANCE, TERROR, AND THE UNITED STATES IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE COUP

A historian and activist offers a damning indictment of corruption, human rights violations, and failed U.S. policy in Honduras.

Frank (Emerita, History/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Women Strikers Occupy Chain Store, Win Big: The 1937 Woolworth’s Sit-Down, 2012, etc.) offers a heady mix of personal experience, historical context, and contemporary condemnation of the chain of events that brought Honduras into a state of chaos. She examines events in Honduras following the coup d'état that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 and the constitutional crisis and regime that followed. Despite the author’s lobbying of Congress to influence Honduran policy, the region destabilized and fell into a quagmire of corruption and violence. Also unhelpful were the State Department, which insultingly viewed Latin America as America’s “backyard,” and other areas of the U.S. government that consciously chose to look the other way even as it continued to “dance with dictators.” These days, Honduras has a notorious reputation for violence, especially in the wake of its refugee crisis, exemplified by the much-publicized “caravan” of 57,000 undocumented, unaccompanied minors that fled Central American countries in 2014. “Those parents had known exactly how brutal the alternatives were at home,” writes Frank. “Just like the parents who sent their kids north, they were trying to imagine, and build, a future for their loved ones.” As to the cause, the author boldly calls it as it is: “But let’s be clear: those gangs and drug traffickers took over a broad swath of daily life in Honduras in part because the elites who ran the government permitted and even profited from it. Who was the gang, in this story?” Readers who aren’t invested in Latin American history or politics may find the political narrative somewhat lackluster, but the author’s on-the-ground reports are gripping. Frank even finds times for a bit of dark humor: “When, exactly, did I start using the term ‘axe murderer’ all the time?”

An important, little-known history that offers much truth and little reconciliation.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60846-960-4

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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