Scholarly and often dense—but shows clearly how collisions of culture and history impede international relations.




Essays of varying interest and lucidity by international authorities who provide varying perspectives on the enduring inability of Japan and Russia to resolve a territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands.

Resembling a string of pearls, the Kuriles lie between northern Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Though considered part of Japan by the Japanese, the islands remain in the control of Russia, whose forces occupied them during the final days of WWII and whose leaders throughout the postwar period have consistently refused to return them. This dispute, according to editor Rozman (Sociology/Princeton Univ.) is the principal reason that Russo-Japanese relations “rank poorest among the great powers.” Rozman has assembled an impressive cast of contributors to this project and has succeeded in presenting a balanced (if sometimes repetitive) discussion of the issues. Divided into three major sections, the volume first examines the background of Russo-Japanese relations (1949–84), moves to very recent events (1985–99), and concludes with five essays (including one by Rozman that is the best in the collection) that in various ways present the case that both sides share “the experience of fallen powers” and must readjust their thinking if progress is to occur. Although this territorial bone of contention has been perhaps too well-gnawed by the end, a number of the essayists make arresting points. Ambassador Sumio Edamura, for example, observes that Boris Yeltsin’s “authoritarian and unpredictable” personality hampered negotiations. Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Kunadze notes that it would have been easier to negotiate a settlement during the Soviet period when the Kremlin could have safely ignored contrary public opinion. And Tsuyoshi Hasogawa claims the problem is “largely a creation of the United States,” whose Cold War, anti-Soviet policies made the USSR less willing to accommodate America’s principal Pacific ally.

Scholarly and often dense—but shows clearly how collisions of culture and history impede international relations.

Pub Date: June 12, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-22877-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet