Repetitive in detail but cumulatively very moving.



An oral history of one horrific night when busloads of unarmed students were attacked by local Mexican police.

Gibler (To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War, 2011, etc.) only presents one side, but he offers compelling testimony that there is no other side—that police attacked without provocation and the government did its best to cover up what it had perhaps authorized in the first place. The results seem beyond dispute: “that police killed 6, wounded more than 40, and disappeared 43 people.” The fate of the disappeared remains open to question: were they sent to be incinerated by a drug gang in collusion with police, or, as their parents hope, are they still alive and held captive by the government? The Teachers College in Ayotzinapa was a progressive institution that was at odds with government repression. As one sophomore explains, “the way of life here, the context, the government harassment and persecution that is always present, I mean it never dissipates, and one has to start, little by little, getting used to the idea that this school isn’t any old school.” The underclassmen who dominate the early part of the account had no idea what they were getting into when they were enlisted to participate in an “action” commemorating an earlier police massacre of students in Mexico. They sensed something was wrong from the outset, when the bus drivers moved slowly and then stopped before armed police, who initially fired shots in the air but soon turned their fire on the students, who responded with rocks. When soldiers belatedly arrived, they threatened to turn the students over to the police who had been shooting them. Hospitals were indifferent: “They should have killed you,” said one hospital director to those seeking help. This is the account of those who witnessed and survived the attacks as well as that of the parents who still search for the 43.

Repetitive in detail but cumulatively very moving.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87286-748-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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