It's hard to imagine any book on the last years of Communism in the Soviet Union surpassing this one by Remnick, who covered the events for The Washington Post. Remnick's story is about far more than simply the economic failure of Communism. For 70 years, he emphasizes, history in the Soviet Union had been the instrument of the Communist Party—and ``history, when it returned, was unforgiving.'' From his own travels, and from conversations with former Soviets at every level of society, Remnick conveys unforgettably the impact of that history. There's the testimony of General Volkogonov, who as a historical researcher and loyal Party member found that on just one day, December 12, 1938, Stalin, after signing the death sentences of about five thousand people—including many the Soviet dictator knew personally—went to his personal theater and watched two movies, including Happy Guys. There's the story of the man Remnick met in Magadan, that ``gulag boomtown,'' who as a young boy lived in a house close to the port, from which long lines of prisoners marched toward the camps scattered for hundred of miles throughout Kolyma. The author spoke to people of every kind—from Politburo leaders to bums in the street; from Gorbachev's first girlfriend to simple people still passionately dedicated to the memory of Stalin- -and he has an almost poetic ability to convey character and scenes economically and vividly: One ideologist, he says, ``looked like a teacher who specialized in handwriting and never gave an A.'' Commenting on his findings, Remnick notes that, today, ``the fate of Russia hinges, once more, on the skills, inclinations, and heartbeat of one man. This time it is Boris Yeltsin...No one knows what would happen should Yeltsin fall from power...The institutions of this new society are embryonic, infinitely fragile.'' Brilliant, evocative, riveting.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-42376-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.


The debut book from “one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard.”

In addition to delivering memorable portraits of undocumented immigrants residing precariously on Staten Island and in Miami, Cleveland, Flint, and New Haven, Cornejo Villavicencio, now enrolled in the American Studies doctorate program at Yale, shares her own Ecuadorian family story (she came to the U.S. at age 5) and her anger at the exploitation of hardworking immigrants in the U.S. Because the author fully comprehends the perils of undocumented immigrants speaking to journalist, she wisely built trust slowly with her subjects. Her own undocumented status helped the cause, as did her Spanish fluency. Still, she protects those who talked to her by changing their names and other personal information. Consequently, readers must trust implicitly that the author doesn’t invent or embellish. But as she notes, “this book is not a traditional nonfiction book….I took notes by hand during interviews and after the book was finished, I destroyed those notes.” Recounting her travels to the sites where undocumented women, men, and children struggle to live above the poverty line, she reports her findings in compelling, often heart-wrenching vignettes. Cornejo Villavicencio clearly shows how employers often cheat day laborers out of hard-earned wages, and policymakers and law enforcement agents exist primarily to harm rather than assist immigrants who look and speak differently. Often, cruelty arrives not only in economic terms, but also via verbal slurs and even violence. Throughout the narrative, the author explores her own psychological struggles, including her relationships with her parents, who are considered “illegal” in the nation where they have worked hard and tried to become model residents. In some of the most deeply revealing passages, Cornejo Villavicencio chronicles her struggles reconciling her desire to help undocumented children with the knowledge that she does not want "kids of my own." Ultimately, the author’s candor about herself removes worries about the credibility of her stories.

A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59268-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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