An effective introduction to a lesser-known portion of the British Empire’s global history.

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The Scots and China 1750-2000

ISSUES IDEAS AND IDENTITIES

A brief history of the influence that the Scots and the Chinese have had upon each other’s countries and cultures.

Scots have been among the most influential Westerners in China since the early days of Britain’s Asian mercantile presence in the 18th century. This short but comprehensive overview introduces readers to the Scots missionaries, educators and merchants who helped shaped the two cultures’ relationship. Wotherspoon makes an effort to avoid generalizations about either ethnic group—as he notes explicitly in the book’s opening pages—by largely confining his history to the achievements of specific individuals instead of concentrating on broader trends. He highlights such notables as trader William Jardine, who rose to prominence when the East India Company lost its monopoly on the tea trade; Thomas Sutherland, founder of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank; and missionaries Robert Morrison and Dugald Christie. The book isn’t a critique of British imperialism, so the Scottish influence on China is largely celebrated, save for the Scots’ role in the opium trade. The book focuses primarily on Scots, but some Chinese figures also make appearances; some, such as student Huang Kuan, took advantage of Scotland’s higher education system, which, in the 19th century, offered more opportunities for outsiders than England’s Oxford or Cambridge did. Although Wotherspoon’s emphasis is largely historical, he also includes information on the current China-Scotland relationship; for example, Scotland is now home to more than 16,000 people of Chinese descent. Despite its brevity, the book manages to encompass a broad historical scope and includes numerous footnotes and citations. Readers may notice occasional, minor typographical errors (“King George 111”), but they do little to hamper the overall narrative.

An effective introduction to a lesser-known portion of the British Empire’s global history.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481025508

Page Count: 130

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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