Though dense and occasionally arid, a highly useful reference for those seeking to understand the geopolitics of a region...

THE LONGEST AUGUST

THE UNFLINCHING RIVALRY BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN

An explanation of the intractable enmity of two South Asian peoples and nations.

It comes down to a matter of gods, of course, and cows, as well. “Hinduism is polytheistic and centered around idol worship,” writes London-based journalist Hiro (A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East, 2013, etc.). “Islam is monotheistic and forbids graven images.” And then there’s the pork-shunning Muslim habit of eating beef, killing cows being a capital offense in some ancient kingdoms of India, avenged in less deadly and more modern climes by “desecrating a mosque by a stealth depositing of a pig’s head or carcass at its entrance.” Against these secular demonstrations are arrayed the powerful forces of two states with nuclear capability that have come very close to using it—and that now are playing out some of their rivalries, born long before the partition of India into India and Pakistan in 1947, in Afghanistan, another place whose leaders are skilled in playing both sides against the middle. Helpfully, Hiro notes that India is the second place where the British government imposed partition as a solution to civil strife, the first being Ireland, also divided by a deadly blend of politics and religion. As the author documents, this sideshow in the great game has had ugly results, such as the involvement of the Pakistani secret police in the attack on a Mumbai hotel in 2008 and India’s funding of Taliban attacks inside Pakistan, which “could be rationalized as Delhi’s quid pro quo to Islamabad’s involvement in stoking the separatist movement in Indian Kashmir.” On and on it goes, and though Hiro argues effectively that it is unlikely for the political tensions to disappear, ordinary Indians and Pakistanis enjoy many of the same things and may be reconcilable to each other on at least a cultural level.

Though dense and occasionally arid, a highly useful reference for those seeking to understand the geopolitics of a region often in the news for outbreaks of violence.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56858-734-9

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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