A complete, full-bodied portrait, with lots of flesh on the bones of a strong narrative structure. (8 b&w photos, not...

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STONEWALL

SIX DAYS THAT TRANSFORMED A POLITICAL MOVEMENT

A history of the week that forged a revolution and brought aboveground a thriving subculture.

Freelancer Carter’s debut focuses primarily on detailing the events of those six stormy days in 1969, but Carter first delineates homosexual life in New York during that period to explain exactly why Stonewall exploded. He discusses the evolution of Greenwich Village as a bohemian enclave and Christopher Street as a milieu for gay culture. Perhaps because New York had particularly harsh anti-homosexual laws, he surmises, the city spawned some of the first gay and lesbian activist societies. Carter considers Stonewall itself a fusion event. Certainly the riot was a product of the charged political and social scene of the late ’60s, but it’s also significant that the raid took place on a summer Friday, late enough at night so that lots of the many customers had downed a good few drinks by the time the cops arrived. The slowness of the raid and the inspired, furious resistance of a few patrons who would not go quietly into the paddy wagons meant that the customers’ friends had plenty of time to assemble at Stonewall, the city’s largest gay bar, located in what was for all purposes a gay ghetto, at the center of a nexus of transportation that made getting there easy. The gathering crowd was in a militant mood. For Morty Manfred, a gay Columbia student who was at Stonewall that night, as for many others, one question had to be answered: “Why do we have to put up with this shit?” They didn't, and six days later gays and lesbians had proven that point. Considering all that went before, the ongoing repression and corruption, and the scent of social and political liberation in the air, Carter’s eloquent account makes it clear that something was bound to catch fire. Stonewall's unique place in the gay community made it an obvious tinderbox.

A complete, full-bodied portrait, with lots of flesh on the bones of a strong narrative structure. (8 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-312-20025-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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