Without well-known criminal names or impressive crimes to pull an audience in, this will likely appeal only to Mafia buffs.

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HELL-BENT

ONE MAN'S CRUSADE TO CRUSH THE HAWAIIAN MOB

Ryan (Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting that Launched the War on Drugs, 2011) delivers his second true-crime tale, this time covering “Hawaii’s underworld.”

When Charles Marsland's son was murdered, he vowed to find the killers. As a lawyer, Marsland had more recourse than most parents in his position, and he used it to his advantage. Marsland blamed his son's death on the Mafia that he and others were convinced was running Honolulu into the ground. His son, nicknamed Chuckers, had connections with the mob through his work as a bouncer. Marsland asked for and received a transfer from the city's civil law department to the criminal department, and though he was fired from that position, he was later elected by the people to serve as the top city prosecutor. It’s an intriguing tale, to be sure, but the hard facts seem to be in short supply, leaving Ryan with conjecture and engaging anecdotes but without a clear way to weave Marsland's search for his son's killers into his exploration of the underworld he wanted to expose. Like many authors of Mafia-related books, Ryan uses even tangentially related players to move the narrative forward. While portions of the book are gripping and Marsland's search for justice takes him through a twisted landscape, the accompanying heartbreak and frustration that would have connected him with readers are lost in a sea of facts and disputes within Hawaii's legal world. Even the promised juxtaposition of gritty crime with tropical paradise falls flat; the Mafia is clearly a presence in Hawaii, but its reach into everyday life is left largely unexplored, beyond general fear and rising crime rates. Marsland was never able to convict the men he believed responsible for his son's death, so readers are left without closure.

Without well-known criminal names or impressive crimes to pull an audience in, this will likely appeal only to Mafia buffs.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0762793037

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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