A knowledgeable, in-the-trenches look at China’s environmental impact.




Guardian Asia Environment correspondent Watts gives a mixed report card on Chinese environmental awareness, region by region.

The author maintains a wry but ambivalent tone in this broad survey of where each region of China—selected “purely by my own experience,” he writes—stands in terms of environmental sensitivity. China is poised to become both a green superpower and a black superpower. As the world’s biggest carbon emitter (coal), China has had a catastrophic effect on other countries in the world, from Siberia’s Taiga, Mongolia’s ore deposits, Southeast Asia’s wildlife, Africa’s mines, the Amazon’s depleted rainforest and the Pacific United States. However, China is also the world’s leader in wind turbines, which line the Silk Road; “the biggest greening campaign on the planet,” in the form of tree planting in the logging capital of Heilongjiang; and the first country in the world where fish-farm output exceeds the oceanic catch. China’s traditional reverence for harmony in nature and Taoist ideals have given way to “Scientific Development,” ruled by efficiency and productivity in order to feed a fifth of the world’s population. The great new technological advances that have “moved mountains”—e.g., the Tibetan Sky Train and the massive hydroengineering schemes that would make Mao proud—have also produced irreparable environmental disasters. To get a complete picture, Watts traveled to the coal-blackened cities of Shanxi and the now-eroded dust bowls of Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi. He considers efforts to arrest the alarming global warming demonstrated by shrinking glaciers in Xinjiang; delves into specious eco-city plans in northeast provinces of Tianji, Hebei and Liaoning, bordering the most polluted sea in China, the Bohai; and weighs government and private grassroots green programs. Unfortunately, the big picture is bleak. Devastation vastly overshadows hope, and the present authoritative one-party mandate to increase supply at all costs can only lead to human disaster.

A knowledgeable, in-the-trenches look at China’s environmental impact.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-8076-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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