A nostalgic ramble through 1960s India from an American perspective. Dimock, as raconteur, mixes the amused distance of an expatriate with the style of Indian storytelling and its mischievous delight in absurd reality. Clearly, Dimock (In Praise of Krishna,not reviewed, etc.) loves his adopted country, where he has taught as a college professor and received numerous honors for his scholarship. Well versed in classics of Indian and Western literature, the author is able to ground his pithy observations in a cultural context, but he hardly polishes off the edges. He recounts with humor the snags and frustrations that Americans bound by a different tradition would find infuriating. For instance, when he and his wife arrived at a train station with family in tow, hypercompetitive porters rushed away with their bags, including their new baby, so that, with panic in her eyes, Mrs. Dimock had to chase her disappearing child. In another chapter, he observes that living with monkeys and cobras as housemates seems incomprehensible to modern Americans, as does the hospitality of a maharaja who sends elephants to carry guests he doesn’t even know to a ceremony. Western readers, who traditionally venerate from afar, may be shocked by Dimock’s tale of an ancient Indian manuscript so revered by a local population that the people rubbed its vellum pages daily—until all but the last page were unreadable. As he reveals the utter frustration and the unexpected gifts of living in any foreign culture, Dimock captures the dilemma of being an expatriate anywhere: A person caught between two countries can never quite grasp either in an intimate way. This is perfect for the armchair traveler, though one might wish that Dimock would roll less shamelessly in nostalgia.

Pub Date: March 26, 1999

ISBN: 1-56512-153-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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