MARX IN SOHO

A PLAY ON HISTORY

By left-wing historian Zinn (The Zinn Reader, 1997; A Peoples’ History of the United States, not reviewed), a whimsical one-man play in which Karl Marx returns from the grave to modern-day Soho—not to the London Soho where he lived, but through some otherworldly bureaucratic error, to the New York neighborhood of the same name. Zinn explains in his introduction that he intends to show that “Marx’s critique of capitalism remains fundamentally true in our time.” Mercifully, however, Zinn’s Marx spends little onstage time defending chimerical Marxist oddities like the surplus value theory. Instead, Zinn presents Karl Marx the revolutionary, the family man, and the impecunious scholar. Rather than the often nasty and abusive character portrayed by some writers, Marx emerges here as an earthy, passionate figure, righteously angry about poverty, injustice, concentrations of wealth and power, and rapacious corporations. Marx also emerges as a beleaguered family man (no mention here of his impregnating the family maid), struggling to keep his wife and children clothed and sheltered. Proclaiming that “I am not a Marxist,” Zinn’s Marx decries the defunct Soviet Union and other police states created in his name, and talks dreamily of the paradisaical socialist society which he still believes will follow the imminent collapse of capitalism, in which workers are no longer alienated from the products of their labor and from one another, and in which inequality and want will be abolished. Imaginatively pointing to the globalization of the world economy and the merger frenzy as dark confirmations of the truth of Marxist criticism of capitalism, Zinn has Marx urge Americans to strive for an egalitarian society. The onstage Marx urges that we use “the incredible wealth of the earth for human beings” and to give people the necessities of life. An imaginative critique of our society’s hypocrisies and injustices, and an entertaining, vivid portrait of Karl Marx as a voice of humanitarian justice—which is perhaps the best way to remember him.

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-89608-594-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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