A biased but informative take on an important aspect of Asian political history.




Heavily detailed history of the movement to liberate Tibet from Chinese rule.

Since the People’s Liberation Army invaded in 1950, and particularly since the Dalai Lama went into exile in 1959, the Tibetan people’s struggle for autonomy has attracted international attention. John B. Roberts, a former aide to President Reagan, and his wife Elizabeth, a freelance journalist, combine archival research and interviews to chronicle that struggle, which burst into the open in 1959 with a CIA-backed uprising that cost some 87,000 Tibetan lives. The authors are candid about the CIA’s covert funding of the movement, which came to an end when the Nixon administration concluded it might derail attempts to forge closer diplomatic ties with China. They also discuss the Dalai Lama’s remarkable life and his status as a spiritual icon, which has prompted many governments, human-rights advocates and celebrities to speak against the Chinese government’s repressive policies. To date there has been little response, and the authors’ frustration over this face is palpable. They toss plenty of advocacy into their hybrid combination of history and biography, taking a highly dramatic tone: “The struggle is not between the Chinese people and the rest of the world. Nor is it between the Chinese people and the Tibetan people, although Chinese government propagandists are more than willing to whip up nationalistic and ethnic tensions to distract from the real issues. The fight is between freedom and dictatorship. For the Tibetan people to win their struggle, the Chinese people will also have to find liberation.” Those willing to ignore this sort of grandstanding will find the authors’ readable text a treasure trove of information about Tibet’s ordeal. They close by suggesting that foreigners supporting Tibetan freedom emulate the anti-apartheid movement by campaigning for trade sanctions and international divestment to put economic pressure on China.

A biased but informative take on an important aspect of Asian political history.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8144-0983-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: AMACOM

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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