Gelber makes solid work of describing China's past and suggesting what those consequences might be. A readable, sturdy...

THE DRAGON AND THE FOREIGN DEVILS

CHINA AND THE WORLD, 1100 B.C. TO THE PRESENT

A fluent and thorough, though understandably brief, survey of Chinese history.

It is a daunting task for a historian to compress the history of “a collection of tribes in the Yellow River valley” grown to “the largest state of the globe, comprising one-quarter of the human race.” Uncowed, Gelber (Nations Out of Empires, 2001, etc.) traces the rise of a discernibly Chinese state some 3,000 ago, from which emerges his overarching theme: China’s constant negotiation with, and sometimes conquest by or absorption of, a stream of foreigners, from the Hsiung-nu riders beyond the walls to the European concessionaries of Shanghai and, lately, American entrepreneurs. Other constants in his narrative are warfare; the collapse of empires presumed to stand forever, such as the Qin dynasty; and the steadily increasing centralization of power in the hands of the state, as with the tax-and-spend Tang dynasty, which required of landowners “tax in grain, tax in the form of materials like textiles, and tax in the form of labour or military service.” China has seen long periods of rule by non-Chinese; the Mongols, who succeeded the Tang, for instance, kept a careful separation of ethnic groups and conducted their affairs in the Persian language, while influential Jesuits saw to it that the language of the early modern nation was Latin. Today it is likely to be English, and Gelber concludes his able survey, studded with sidebars on such matters as concubinage and silk-making, with a quiet, Taoist-tinged note meant for those Westerners who fear China as a potential rival and enemy: “No pattern or structure of power or of relations lasts very long. America itself will change. . . . How China develops . . . equally depends on myriad decisions not yet made, or even formulated, each of them attended by the inevitability of unintended consequences.” That is to say: There’s history yet to come.

Gelber makes solid work of describing China's past and suggesting what those consequences might be. A readable, sturdy overview, worthy of shelving alongside Joseph Levenson and Franz Schurmann’s China: An Interpretive History.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8027-1591-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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