An eminently well-informed narrative.



A geographer’s exuberant travel narrative about the nations and people of the Caribbean.

Jelly-Schapiro (co-editor: Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, 2016) begins with the premise that the Caribbean, a place often overlooked by both the academic and cultural mainstream, “has been anything but ‘marginal’ to the making of our modern world.” He examines this idea by offering an ambitious depiction of almost all the islands in that region in a narrative that merges historical, political, and geographical accounts of the Caribbean with the author’s abundant experiences as a traveler with an abiding fondness for the islands in all their eccentric, sometimes-bizarre complexity. He divides the book into two sections: one that discusses the islands of the Greater Antilles (Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola) and another that considers many of the Lesser Antilles (Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad). In the first section, Jelly-Schapiro brings his passion for Caribbean music to the fore while delineating the people and places he encounters with precision, grace, and eloquence. He discusses how the music of people like Jamaican reggae master Bob Marley, Puerto Rican salsa singer Héctor Lavoe, and Cuban bandleader and I Love Lucy star Desi Arnaz helped put the islands on the map of world culture. In the second section, Jelly-Schapiro focuses more on writers and thinkers—e.g., Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid, and C.L.R. James—who made the much smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles important to Western intellectual consciousness. In particular, the author examines their relationships to the places that shaped—and in some cases, came to haunt—them. While descriptive detail is one of the book’s strengths, it is also the source of a possible weakness. Caribbean studies scholars will no doubt find much to appreciate in this fine academic study–cum-travelogue. However, a general audience may be somewhat daunted by the very detail that is at the heart of this fine, if at times meandering, book.

An eminently well-informed narrative.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-34976-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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