With the collapse of the Soviet Union irrevocably altering class struggles throughout the world, Casta§eda (Political Science/Autonomous Univ. of Mexico; coauthor of The Limits to Friendship, 1988) takes a close, sympathetic look at the current sociopolitical situation in Central and South America. Casta§eda groups the historical impulses for social change in Latin America into two categories, Communist and populist, with the degree of interaction between the two contingent on the particular time and place. In general, he says, the Marxist influence was felt most forcefully after the Cuban revolution in 1959, when the presence and support of Castro gave heart to those struggling for similar goals in their own countries. Although the Cuban imperative to export regional revolution waned sharply as economic demands made coexistence more attractive than relentless guerrilla warfare, the left remained active, able to rely on the intellectual community and middle-class students, as well as on more rural, grass-roots organizations. With armed struggle put down brutally in Chile, Argentina, and elsewhere, and with the US more than willing to intervene, leftist victories remained few—even the Sandinista triumph in Nicaragua ended in a 1990 democratic defeat. Increasingly, Casta§eda says, those seeking change in Latin America turn to democratic reforms to substitute caring, responsive forms of government for the present-day oligarchies and their ever- increasing inequity in the distribution of national wealth. A sustained analysis of the bleak situation in much of Latin America, and a well-reasoned prescription for change—but this is more grist for the policy-wonk mill than general food for thought.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-58259-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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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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