A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary—trademark Preston, in other words, and another...

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THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD

A TRUE STORY

“Once again I had the strong feeling, when flying into the valley, that I was leaving the twenty-first century entirely”: another perilous Preston (The Kraken Project, 2014, etc.) prestidigitation.

The noted novelist and explorer is well-known for two things: going out and doing things that would get most people killed and turning up ways to get killed that might not have occurred to readers beforehand but will certainly be on their minds afterward. Here, the adventure involves finding a lost civilization in the heart of the Honduran rain forest, a steaming-jungle sort of place called La Mosquitia that saw the last gasps of a culture related, by ideas if not blood, to the classic Maya. That connection makes archaeological hearts go pitter-patter, and it sets archaeological blood to boiling when well-funded nonarchaeologists go in search of suchlike things, armed with advanced GPS and other technological advantages. Preston, who blends easily with all camps, braves the bad feelings of the professionals to chart out a well-told, easily digested history of the region, a place sacred to and overrun by jaguars, spider monkeys, and various other deities and tutelary spirits. Finding the great capital known, in the neutral parlance of the scholars, as T1 puts Preston and company square in various cross hairs, not least of them those of the Honduran army, whose soldiers, he divines, are on hand not to protect the place from looters but to do some looting themselves. “I’ve seen this kind of corruption all over the world,” says one member of the expedition, “believe me, that’s what’s going to happen.” Yes, but more than that—and the snakes and spiders and vengeful spirits—there’s the specter of a spectacularly awful, incurable disease called leishmaniasis, on the introduction of which Preston goes all Hot Zone and moves from intrepid explorer to alarmed epidemiologist.

A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary—trademark Preston, in other words, and another winner.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4000-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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