THE GREAT POX

THE FRENCH DISEASE IN RENAISSANCE EUROPE

A scholarly investigation of the response in Italy, France, and Germany to the sudden appearence of a seemingly new disease, ``the pox'' (syphilis), in the 1490s. The disease appeared first in Italy, in the wake of an invasion by French troops in 1494 and was quickly labeled ``the French disease.'' Its alarming symptoms included joint pain (so intense, one contemporary chronicler observed, that those infected ``screamed day and night without respite, envying the dead themselves''). Swellings appeared over the body, burst, and left blue or black scabs. Eventually, the disease corroded the features of the face, gnawing down ``as far as the marrow.'' Those infected also, witnesses insisted, eventually developed a revolting odor. To a continent only recently recovered from the Black Death (which had killed a third of Europe's population 130 years earlier), this new disease seemed like an equally lethal calamity. And even though doctors quickly identified sexual intercourse as the method of transmission, the ultimate cause of the disease, as well as effective treatments for it, remained elusive. Some of the devout, considering how the disease was transmitted, felt that ``the pox'' was God's punishment on sinners and required no intervention. Arrizabalaga (History of Science/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cient°ficas, Barcelona), Henderson (Senior Research Fellow/Wellcome Institute, London), and French (History of Medicine/Cambridge Univ.) offer a great deal of period detail, but their goal here is not a social history of the new disease. They are most concerned with the differing responses of doctors, municipalities, the Church, and royal courts to the disease. For those interested in such matters, there is much that is fresh and intriguing here. But lay readers, looking for a greater focus on the impact of the disease on society would do better to consult Claude QuÇtel's vivid History of Syphilis.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-300-06934-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS

The debut book from “one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard.”

In addition to delivering memorable portraits of undocumented immigrants residing precariously on Staten Island and in Miami, Cleveland, Flint, and New Haven, Cornejo Villavicencio, now enrolled in the American Studies doctorate program at Yale, shares her own Ecuadorian family story (she came to the U.S. at age 5) and her anger at the exploitation of hardworking immigrants in the U.S. Because the author fully comprehends the perils of undocumented immigrants speaking to journalist, she wisely built trust slowly with her subjects. Her own undocumented status helped the cause, as did her Spanish fluency. Still, she protects those who talked to her by changing their names and other personal information. Consequently, readers must trust implicitly that the author doesn’t invent or embellish. But as she notes, “this book is not a traditional nonfiction book….I took notes by hand during interviews and after the book was finished, I destroyed those notes.” Recounting her travels to the sites where undocumented women, men, and children struggle to live above the poverty line, she reports her findings in compelling, often heart-wrenching vignettes. Cornejo Villavicencio clearly shows how employers often cheat day laborers out of hard-earned wages, and policymakers and law enforcement agents exist primarily to harm rather than assist immigrants who look and speak differently. Often, cruelty arrives not only in economic terms, but also via verbal slurs and even violence. Throughout the narrative, the author explores her own psychological struggles, including her relationships with her parents, who are considered “illegal” in the nation where they have worked hard and tried to become model residents. In some of the most deeply revealing passages, Cornejo Villavicencio chronicles her struggles reconciling her desire to help undocumented children with the knowledge that she does not want "kids of my own." Ultimately, the author’s candor about herself removes worries about the credibility of her stories.

A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59268-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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