A must-read study of the power of democracy and shared memory to shape our public spaces.

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BATTLE FOR GROUND ZERO

INSIDE THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE TO REBUILD THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

A well-tempered account of the fraught political struggles over the reconstruction of the World Trade Center.

Greenspan (Urban Anthropology/Harvard) is not a New Yorker; she was raised in Philadelphia and now lives in Boston. This distance on the subject, as well as her training, may account for her ability to keep her head above the fray. Despite her “outsider” status, Greenspan paid close attention to developments at ground zero from the earliest days after 9/11. She interviewed not only major players, including former New York governor George Pataki, commercial real estate developer Larry Silverstein, designer Daniel Libeskind, Port Authority Chairman Christopher Ward, and surviving family members and activists, but also “ordinary” people—tourists, lower Manhattan residents, 9/11 truthers and members of Occupy Wall Street—to get at the broad range of meanings of the disaster to the city, the nation and the world. Considering how different those meanings are to different people, it’s a virtual miracle any progress on reconstruction was made. From early on, the Port Authority, which owned the land, and Silverstein, who owned the buildings on it, struggled to balance their need to rebuild commercial space with expectations from families and politicians to respect the “sacred” ground believed to contain the irretrievable remains of up to a third of those killed in the attacks. Winner of an international competition to create a master plan for the space, Libeskind saw his design altered to the point where only the height of his proposed Freedom Tower remained. Greenspan also tells the fascinating stories of the most contentious controversies, including the Freedom Center, a well-connected, well-meaning educational organization crushed by popular opposition, and the Islamic Center two blocks north of ground zero, which weathered a similar campaign in 2010.

A must-read study of the power of democracy and shared memory to shape our public spaces.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-230-34138-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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