Critical analysis of a dire situation and a compelling argument for the power of social mobilization.




Public-health specialist Epstein (Where She Came From, 1997, etc.) takes a stark yet hopeful look at the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Forty percent of the world’s population infected with HIV live in African countries that are home to only three percent of the world’s population, she states, illustrating the severity of the problem. Trained as a molecular biologist, the author opens with an account of her naïve and frustrated attempts to study HIV in Uganda in 1993. Since then, Epstein has traveled widely in Africa, studying gender relations and developing a theory about the spread of AIDS. She argues that the epidemic has been triggered by upheavals caused by the rapid shift for millions of Africans from an agrarian, tribal society to a semi-urbanized way of life in a bureaucratic state, as well as the consequent disruptive shift in the balance of power between the sexes. She credits Uganda’s homegrown Zero Grazing campaign of the 1980s with reducing the HIV rate more than either abstinence or condoms. The program recognized that polygamy, formal or informal, was the norm, but encouraged men to stick to one partner or, if they must have multiple partners, to avoid casual encounters with prostitutes. According to Epstein, such a program could not operate in the current political and religious climate. AIDS, she maintains, is now a multibillion-dollar enterprise with highly paid outside consultants offering a menu of options that fail to consider the cultures of those they seek to reach. What is needed is not just medical treatment for those already infected, but support for community-based, locally conceived and locally controlled preventive initiatives.

Critical analysis of a dire situation and a compelling argument for the power of social mobilization.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-28152-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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