Cold War Berlin is already well documented, but MacGregor writes with depth and precision of events that still reverberate.

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

THE COLD WAR, THE BERLIN WALL, AND THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH

A big-picture history of a Berlin divided by postwar ideologies—and barbed wire.

London-based publisher MacGregor brings a useful perspective to his study of divided Berlin by reminding American readers that the Cold War was fought not just by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but by many allies on both sides—especially, among the occupying powers, the U.K. and France. Checkpoint Charlie, long a metaphor for a carved-up Germany, stood near the boundary of the American and Soviet sectors and became a potent symbol of the struggle between East and West: It was there that American and Soviet tanks held a standoff in 1961 and there where the Berlin Wall rose. At the beginning, the author observes that the division of Germany into communist and noncommunist parts helped create a buffer zone that, foremost, protected the Soviet Union from overland attack. It also created two very different nations, one wealthy and one desperately poor; when reunited in 1990, the weak economy of East Germany fell apart. As noted by a German journalist the author interviewed, “too many East Germans lost their jobs and their confidence in this new order. That is one of the reasons, in my opinion, for the rise of the Neo-Nazi movements in East Germany today.” There is little of the gripping thriller in MacGregor’s sober account, with its specific details of such things as the exact configuration of the no-man’s land between East and West, with its “3.6-meter-high Grenzwall” and “BT-11 guard tower, manned 24/7 by teams of 2-5 with clear fields of fire” and the rotational schedule of the U.S. Berlin Brigade. Yet there are plenty of human-interest stories as well, such as MacGregor’s portrait of the Greek-born cantor who helped rebuild the city’s tiny surviving Jewish community and who “seemed to float between the two halves of the city pre-1961."

Cold War Berlin is already well documented, but MacGregor writes with depth and precision of events that still reverberate.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982100-03-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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