A journalist's recollection of reporting in Vietnam—and its force in shaping his consciousness. ``I must have been the greenest reporter who ever set foot in Vietnam,'' declares former Los Angeles Times reporter Leslie, who arrived there in 1972, less than four years out of Yale. But his stint soon imprinted ``the mark''—a journalistic addiction to drama and righteous conflict that eventually helped him ``solve the mystery of my life.'' This is mostly a conventional, if interesting, recounting of war correspondence, written in numerous brief scenes. The young reporter experienced combat (he suffered a minor wound), battled with office-bound editors questioning his objectivity, and grew skeptical of bureaucratic pronouncements on American progress. Leslie offers some intriguing reflection on the murky process of trusting sources and the impossibility of conveying Vietnam's complexity to faraway readers. Intermittently, he inserts flashbacks from his past: During his joyless childhood in a solitary Beverly Hills family, he felt sympathy for ``voiceless sufferers,'' and only politics provoked real conversation between his parents. ``A loner who hated to be alone,'' he picked up prostitutes and dabbled in drugs in Vietnam. Along the way, Leslie learned some lessons: A refugee woman was offered $100 in exchange for having her picture taken. Although the money ``was more than the woman could hope to earn in a year,'' she refused because she considered it an invasion of her privacy. She remains Leslie's ``model of integrity.'' Expelled from South Vietnam for airing a local scandal, he went to Cambodia and eventually covered the American pullout. In a very brief epilogue, the author relates that he discovered Eastern philosophy, yoga, and therapy, began a family, and ultimately found a pattern in his path from troubled childhood to Indochinese epiphany. But until that late point, his personal trauma has been lost in long stretches of reporting; readers need more about his successful transformation. Good snapshots rather than a coherent moving picture. (12 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 16, 1995

ISBN: 1-56858-024-6

Page Count: 300

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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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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