SEASONS IN HELL

UNDERSTANDING BOSNIA'S WAR

An angry, impassioned book from a journalist who has seen the Bosnian conflict at its worst. Vulliamy has been covering the war in the former Yugoslavia for the Guardian, winning several awards for his reportage, much of which has gone into this volume. After a pungent historical summary of the troubled nationalities that make up the population of former Yugoslavia, Vulliamy plunges readers headlong into a nightmarish war in which 85% of the dead are civilians, a war stained by concentration camps and genocidal violence. He describes a conflict in which a multiethnic Bosnian state has been caught in a territorial vise between two vicious and unprincipled neofascist states, one Croatian and one Serb; both, he says, are rabidly nationalistic and want to ``re-establish their ancient frontiers with modern weaponry in the chaos of post-communist eastern Europe.'' He describes formerly Muslim villages now ``gutted, charred and lifeless''; concentration camps full of men with skeletal bodies, ``alive, but decomposed, debased, degraded.'' Vulliamy harshly criticizes diplomatic cynicism, referring to the behavior of the European Community, the Russians, and the US as nothing less than a Munich-scale appeasement that has allowed the Serbs and Croats to blackmail, lie, and wheedle their way toward the dismemberment of Bosnia. He makes no effort to hide his distaste for the politicians who engendered the butchery or the diplomats who made it possible. The reporting and the writing are comprehensive and moving, and it is hard to imagine anyone coming away from this volume not feeling enraged and dismayed by events in Bosnia. If readers are seeking an objective and detached history of this conflict, this is the wrong book. However, it is one of the best books to date on the Bosnian tragedy. A powerful and important volume.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-11378-1

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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