A chorus of candid, emotional, and often moving testimonies.

THE WORLD ONLY SPINS FORWARD

THE ASCENT OF ANGELS IN AMERICA

An oral history traces the life of an iconic American play.

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America won accolades when it opened on Broadway in 1993, winning a Pulitzer Prize, many Tony awards, and critical acclaim. In their debut book, theater director Butler and Slate writer Kois gather the voices of 250 actors, directors, producers, critics, audience members, and historians—and Kushner himself—to tell the story of that momentous play and its dramatic context. A rich historical resource, the book chronicles the emergence of AIDS and the nation’s changing attitudes toward homosexuality from 1978 to 2018, when Angels is set to be revived yet again. Each of five sections opens with a timeline, beginning with the assassination of gay rights activist Harvey Milk and progressing through the election of Ronald Reagan, the Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and the Supreme Court judgment making gay marriage legal in all states. Contributors include many of the actors in the original production and some (like Marcia Gay Harden) who performed over the years. Meryl Streep, who performed in the HBO production in 2003, remarked on the play’s immediate impact: “I’ve seen lots of performances that surprised me in the theater but this was on a scale—with ambition and imagination—that was unlike anything I’d ever seen.” It was, she added later, “the Hamilton of its time.” In his review, New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote that the play “speaks so powerfully because something far larger and more urgent than the future of the theater is at stake. It really is history that Mr. Kushner intends to crack open.” Despite the praise and awards, Kushner himself never quite believed his fame. In an interview with journalist Susan Cheever, he expressed worry that if a new play failed, he would “just be back to writing little plays for tiny little theaters.” She assured him that would never happen: “You’ve gone over to the other side now. You’ll always have done this thing and it’s permanent.”

A chorus of candid, emotional, and often moving testimonies.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63557-176-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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