Too broad-stroked a portrait to effectively assess the changes afoot in Hong Kong’s postcolonial future.

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DEALING WITH THE DRAGON

A YEAR IN THE NEW HONG KONG

A considered reading of the first two years of Chinese rule in Hong Kong.

From his perch as editor of the South China Morning Post, Fenby (France on the Brink, 1999) takes measure of Hong Kong during the year 1999 (his account is structured primarily as a diary of telling events). Business continues to rule, Fenby understands, and its practitioners are lords of this universe, and as a result of “an accident of history and geography, it has become a theatre for major questions of our times, not in theory but in everyday life.” But one of the problems of his account is exactly that: its dearth of the everyday. Although the diary approach allows Fenby to rattle on like a police blotter of crimes and misdemeanors that are a staple of Hong Kong business, too often the sense of place he conjures has the superficiality of headlines or, worse, day-old news. He relies heavily on the glitterati for its flash, and the mobile phone is the kind of indicator species he uses to gauge economic and social health. There are pieces on the absurd level of corruption in business and government, the mistreatment of domestic help, a note on the passing of Deng Xiaoping and on the influence of tongs and triads. That the Chinese government has made, and continues to make, inroads into the political process of Hong Kong hardly shakes anyone awake, despite Fenby’s portentous rumblings on “the steady advance of weak-kneed consensus, the over-riding exercise of authority by the executive and the erosion of the rule of law.” An astute vignette on the quietly bustling Macau, another colony recently returned, serves to highlight the glancing qualities of so much else in these pages.

Too broad-stroked a portrait to effectively assess the changes afoot in Hong Kong’s postcolonial future.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55970-559-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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