A well-reported, optimistic portrait of America’s future.

OUR TOWNS

A 100,000-MILE JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF AMERICA

An illuminating trip through “parts of the country generally missed by the media spotlight.”

Between 2013 and 2017, Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows (China Airborne: The Test of China’s Future, 2013, etc.) and his wife, Deborah Fallows (Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, 2011, etc.), traveled nearly 100,000 miles in their small plane, making two-week stops in 25 cities and shorter visits to another 24. They visited libraries and bars, schools and businesses; talked to politicians, civic leaders, newly arrived refugees, students, social service workers, and others to get a sense of “the backbone and character of the region” and, by extension, of the whole country. Writing with lively curiosity and open minds, the couple have created textured portraits of 29 American cities, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Eastport, Maine, to Redlands, California. Central to a city’s or region’s success, they discovered, were “the stories people tell themselves” about their “traits and strengths.” Burlington, Vermont, for example, changed its identity from largely a retirement community to a research and technology center where local companies encourage startups. Although the city struggles with drug culture and “tensions between old-family Vermont residents and new arrivals,” civic engagement, one resident said, “is the absolute heart of what keeps the city palpitating.” Although all but one of the states visited voted for Donald Trump in 2016, the authors found no evidence of “the seething fury described by the media.” Instead, they noted “humming, stylish” downtowns—essential for a city’s success—in places like Columbus, Ohio, and Greenville, South Carolina, each the result of efforts by business, civic, and educational organizations. They found innovative schools, like the Mississippi School for Mathematics and the Arts, a public boarding school in Columbus, Mississippi, where students—some of whom grew up in a shack or trailer—were building robots. The authors assert that distancing themselves from national politics, fostering collaboration between government and businesses, and keeping open to outsiders, including immigrants, all contribute to a city’s vitality.

A well-reported, optimistic portrait of America’s future.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-87184-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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