A passionate, important study of the current affairs of a volatile region.

VIGIL

HONG KONG ON THE BRINK

A longtime observer of Hong Kong protest movements argues that the autonomy of the region is being eroded by Beijing authority—not gradually and probably irreparably.

In this well-organized, strikingly relevant work, Wasserstrom (History/Univ. of California, Irvine; Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, 2012, etc.) argues that the designation of Hong Kong by China and Britain in the handover of 1997 as a Special Administrative Region enjoying “a high degree of autonomy” is being threatened. While originally the Western assumption was that Hong Kong, as the region bringing much of the economic boom to China, would be too valuable to Beijing to disrupt by its repressive measures, the reality seems to be that Beijing’s tentacles are pervasive and continue to tighten. Disappearances of protestors, forced confessions, the threat of extradition law, the installation of puppet legislators, the resistance to universal suffrage—these are just a few of the familiar “screws” that mainland officials are implementing. The author provides a penetrating review of the situation through on-the-ground reporting and interviews with protest leaders like Joshua Wong and Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. Wasserstrom works through the history of the region as a British colonial hub of trade in the mid-1800s and its subsequent enormous economic growth, overtaking even Shanghai after World War II. “Shanghai, after falling in 1949,” writes the author, “was an example of a Golden Goose that the Communists killed not long after taking control of it.” While there have been many victories for the democratic movement since renewed protests this year—e.g., pushing back against a new “moral and national education plan,” which smacked of censorship—the protest movement’s other demands—directly electing the chief executive, the release of prisoners, investigation of police brutality, and immediate universal suffrage, among them—have not been met. Without civil disobedience and international pressure, Wasserstrom fears that Hong Kong will become a “captive colony of Beijing.”

A passionate, important study of the current affairs of a volatile region.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73362-374-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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