A thorough account that tracks the growing and processing of this fine tea against the wider changes in today’s India.

DARJEELING

THE COLORFUL HISTORY AND PRECARIOUS FATE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST TEA

From seed to auction, a detailed look at the growing, selling and drinking of India’s “champagne of tea.”

There is no leaf unturned in Barcelona-based food journalist Koehler’s (Spain: Recipes and Traditions, 2013, etc.) exposition on the growing of Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling is cultivated only in 87 tea estates along a slender spine of land in northeast India. It is an “orthodox” black tea, meaning it is unmixed—withered, rolled, fermented and fired in the traditional method by hand. Since there is so little of it—it takes 22,000 handpicked shoots to produce one kilo of Darjeeling—in comparison to green or other kinds of tea, the prices it fetches at auction are enormous. Koehler explores the history of chai (Hindi for tea), from the beginnings in China to the surprisingly late (19th-century) experimentation by the British to figure out if tea shoots brought from China would grow in northern India. At that time, the East India Company moved into the steep, misty hills of Darjeeling, and the first British tea estates prospered. Koehler chronicles his visits to the oldest select tea estates, such as Makaibari, Castleton and Ambootia, noting how he began to understand what makes this tea so singular: the ideal climate and terroir and the “human element”—i.e., the need to be plucked by hand. Women do the plucking and get paid so little that absenteeism runs 30 percent. In a deeply researched work organized by the tea’s growing season, from “first flush” through “monsoon flush” through “autumn flush,” Koehler explores the initiative by some of the estates to go organic. Yet the combined crises of labor unrest, climate change and a political threat of independence from West Bengal spell a serious threat to the vulnerable Darjeeling tea.

A thorough account that tracks the growing and processing of this fine tea against the wider changes in today’s India.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62040-512-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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