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CUBA

THE AUDACIOUS REVOLUTION

Even for readers familiar with Cuban history, there are many discoveries to be made here.

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There’s something for everyone in this portrait of Cuba as a nation full of paradoxes that seem to exasperate residents and observers alike, regardless of political affiliation.

Gedda (Dominican Connection, 2009) draws on more than 30 years of experience as a reporter for the Associated Press in this wide-ranging work that he accurately describes as “part memoir, part anecdote, part history, and part analysis.” Along those lines, the thematic organization of the book seems to mimic a series of sketches or snapshots that sometimes overlap by necessity or design, so the occasional repetition of material in different chapters doesn’t diminish its value or impact. From the outset, the author situates himself nicely, detailing the extent of his contact with Cubans while also recognizing the limitations of his perspective as an outsider. His press credentials only take him so far, but definitely farther than most Americans could hope to venture given the travel restrictions still in place and the rationing of information, a notable concept that appears throughout the text. Gedda skillfully juxtaposes the achievements and failures of the Cuban Revolution—a high literacy rate alongside compromised media outlets and limited Internet access, universal health care without basic medical supplies and a free educational system that produces well-trained graduates who sacrifice professional careers in order to earn hard currency by serving tourists. Serious problems with housing, transportation, nutrition and race relations do not escape Gedda’s view. The author thus goes beyond statistics to demonstrate concrete strategies of survival in a land of scarcity; he lists, for instance, the components of improvised brake fluid and the ingredients of a meatless dish known as “grapefruit steak.” Additionally, his inclusion of recent policy changes on both sides of the Straits of Florida suggests the potential for significant shifts in U.S./Cuba relations and, more poignantly, underscores an uncertain future for all Cubans, whether living on the island or in exile.

Even for readers familiar with Cuban history, there are many discoveries to be made here.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456480226

Page Count: 329

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2012

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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