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DREAMERS

AN IMMIGRANT GENERATION'S FIGHT FOR THEIR AMERICAN DREAM

A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.

In this English-language edition of her first book, an immigrant, LA–based reporter tells the intimate stories of the young people who, by no choice of their own, live without legal status in the United States.

With both political parties posturing on the issue of immigration reform and with the consequences of the president’s controversial executive action still unfolding, Truax’s subject could hardly be timelier. And it’s impossible not to sympathize with the subgroup of the estimated 11 million illegals living in America she profiles here: young people boldly declaring their undocumented status, bringing dangerous attention to their precarious lives, and organizing to encourage passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. Truax showcases the personal histories of the Dreamers living under the constant threat of deportation and denied access to educational opportunities, housing, permits, licenses and career paths many take for granted. Here, they “speak for themselves,” relating tales of fear, frustration, courage, achievement and assertiveness: the Vietnamese honor student; the Mexican high schooler teaching English to her neighbors; the Texas student leader setting up a Dream Alliance chapter. Having covered this story for years and earned their trust, Truax introduces us to the places Dreamers go for support—the Food Closet at UCLA, El Hormiguero in the San Fernando Valley—to the political actions and to training sessions held in various states, to activists and politicians sympathetic to the cause—Gov. Jerry Brown, California state representative Gil Cedillo, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin—and even to some immigration opponents such as Maricopa County’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There is, of course, a serious economic, legal, even moral argument against immigration on the Dreamers’ terms. But Truax focuses solely on the struggle and challenges they face today, and she does so in a way that leaves a mark on any reader with a conscience.

A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8070-3033-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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