FEAR FALLS AWAY

AND OTHER ESSAYS FROM HARD AND ROCKY PLACES

Delicious, closely observed place vignettes of southeastern Arizona, from naturalist Bowers (A Full Life in a Small Place and Other Essays from a Desert Garden, 1995). The Santa Catalinas, the Pinalenos, the Huachucas, the Santa Ritas, Baboquivari—these southwestern mountains are for Bowers ``the stuff of wary beauty and abiding love . . . a love that lies less in easy responses than in intimate acquaintance, doggedly pursued.'' After 20 years, she is still going about making the place her home, finding, synecdochically, a vastness in the details: in the petroglyphs of the Hohokam, artist-farmers, contemporaries of Chaucer; in an old snag, perforated like a Chinese checkerboard, an acorn in every hole, tucked there by a woodpecker (``The tree seemed to have a hundred brown eyeballs''); in a melancholy walk on Mt. Graham, home of an endangered squirrel threatened by a new observatory. She is unhappy with the human degradation of her dreamscape, angry at the roads cutting through the wild, jarringly like ``rough footsteps in the dark, a banging door, the sound of gunfire,'' but she does not beat the reader senseless with such things. Rather, like a good pilgrim, she dawdles, lets the landscape move through her, tunes her fine eye to the exigent art of seeing—``the cliffs stand on the rim like the fur on an angry cat's back.'' Her delineations of the land are sharp as crystal, and fragile and melancholy, too, as if the land might melt into air, ephemeral as a desert flower. The desert Southwest is blessed with superb place portraitists: Edward Abbey, Charles Bowden, Jack Dykinga, and many more. Add Bowers to that embarrassment of riches.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-8165-1717-7

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Univ. of Arizona

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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