A memorable report of a monthlong 1992 expedition to Peru, featuring daring, drugs, and despotism. BBC reporter Simpson (Despatches from the Barricades, 1991) loves a good story, and Peru—source of most of the world's cocaine and home of both the relentless Shining Path guerrilla movement and an army unburdened by procedural niceties—seemed like a natural place to find one. He planned, with a group of colleagues, to cover the drug problem and the political situation for the BBC and other news organizations. But before describing this trip he whets readers' appetites with engaging preliminary tales of a trip from Brazil to visit forest-dwelling Indians and his subsequent negotiations from London over the logistics of the Peruvian trip. Arrived in Lima, Simpson and his team learn that the Peruvian police have captured Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman. Simpson's interviews show the manhunt leader to be one of the government's few committed democrats, while President Alberto Fujimori, who has suspended the constitution, wriggles out of tough questions. Navigating Peru's coca-growing region, an area off-limits to foreigners, Simpson's team, aided by a brave Peruvian journalist and some rickety forms of transport, has several adventures: They take testimony about army human-rights violations, meet a former official willing to testify about army corruption, and escape some menacing local army potentates, whom they manage to film before fleeing. Amid the tension, there is macabre humor, as when a Peruvian journalist composes for Simpson a fawning letter asking to interview a local drug lord (``Our news...has 99 per cent credibility among the people of Europe''). Simpson leaves Peru after getting the country's vice president, Maximo San Roman, on camera calling Fujimori ``the front man'' for a regime linked with drug traffickers. A good yarn with an appealing protagonist that inspires sadness for the Peruvian people and much distaste for their government. (8 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43297-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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