For readers who share Gargan’s fascination with the region, an excellent travelogue.



A colorful and closely detailed account of travels along Southeast Asia’s contested lifeline, from former New York Times correspondent Gargan (China’s Fate, 1990).

Aiming for a more primal Asian experience than he’d experienced as a foreign bureau chief, Gargan planned a yearlong voyage combining scholarship, passion, and adventurous exploration on the Mekong River, which propelled him through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Chinese-occupied Tibet. He depicts vast cultural differences and bitter political squabbles among these nations, bound together only geographically by the Mekong. Everywhere Gargan finds the unhealthy aftertaste of colonialism: “Whether the French, or the Americans who followed them, it was the foreign presence that had largely underpinned the course of events in 20th-century Southeast Asia, mostly for the worse.” Wisely keeping his journalistic eye trained on the human aspects of his journey, the author describes encounters with a variety of Asian citizens, from Tibetan master potters and Buddhist monks to rogues who pilot battered vessels, all of whom are pleased to practice their English on him. These conversations reveal resigned acceptance of authoritarian regimes incongruously combined with enthusiasm for European tourism and American pop culture. Although Gargan’s narrative meanders almost as slowly as his actual voyage, it accrues power as he travels through successive countries, assessing the harsh costs of war and kleptocracy. In Cambodia, for example, he finds the social destruction wrought by genocide lingering beneath the surface of optimistic recovery, while a popular nightclub in Saigon patterned after the film Apocalypse Now demonstrates that the Vietnamese remain dominated by the conflict they supposedly “won.” Elsewhere, the author’s portraits of impoverished rural Chinese and Tibetans chafing under the central Communist government’s Kafkaesque privations are extremely affecting, as is his journey through xenophobic, still-isolated Laos.

For readers who share Gargan’s fascination with the region, an excellent travelogue.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-40584-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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