A thoughtful, probing meditation on the fragility of memory and the indelible inheritance of pain.



Trauma informs a memoir palpable with anger, sorrow, and frustration.

Poet, essayist, and novelist Rosner (Electric City, 2014, etc.) feels an intimate connection to the Holocaust: her father was imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp when he was 15, and her mother, at the age of 12, fled from her home in the Vilna ghetto and lived in hiding for two years, until the Russians drove the Nazis out of Poland. The two met later, married, and immigrated to the United States, where Rosner and her siblings were born. German culture and language were forbidden in her family, yet the author’s life was shadowed by her parents’ history. “Shards of their past lodged themselves inside me at birth, if not before,” she writes, which infused her life with “grief, anxiety, rage, and so much more.” Those emotions are shared, Rosner knows, with many others whose lives were blighted by atrocities: Vietnamese boat people, victims of the Cambodian Killing Fields, Japanese descendants of atom-bomb survivors or families interned in American camps, and survivors of Armenian, Rwandan, or Native American genocides. Although she empathetically considers others’ experiences, her focus is on how her own identity has been shaped. The author looks to epigenetics for evidence of intergenerational trauma, passed to offspring in “mother’s milk drenched in sadness” and other visceral ways: “we are inheriting more than the overt repeating of survival stories.” Rosner acknowledges the need “to interrupt the cycle of trauma” through therapy and, at the same time, believes that the culture urgently needs those stories to ensure that the past will not be forgotten. She repeatedly expresses frustration with the inadequacy of words to convey horrific reality as well as by memorials and museums that fall short of offering “a personal shape for such collective and monumental mourning.” Central to the narrative are three visits to Buchenwald with her father, for a commemoration, where inmates, liberators, and German residents gathered at a Survivor’s Café, an emotional reunion.

A thoughtful, probing meditation on the fragility of memory and the indelible inheritance of pain.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-954-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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