A quiet, scholarly, but devastating study of Tibet from the earliest times to the present. While there is useful material on the ethnic origins of the Tibetans and their early history, Smith, an independent scholar of international relations, gives three-quarters of his space to the history of the country since 1903, when a British military expedition in search of trade privileges focused attention on the country for the first time. It ended Tibet's isolation, and made it clear that China's claim of authority was a myth. A failed attempt by China in 1911 to establish its authority contributed to its own financial collapse. In 1950, the Chinese Communists invaded the country, almost at the same time they entered the Korean War. The international reaction to the invasion and to massive human-rights violations in Tibet has been constrained by the recognition by most major governments of Chinese sovereignty and by their desire to preserve their relations with the Chinese government. Thus, it was not until the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that a US president (George Bush) agreed to meet him. And yet the evidence of genocide is abundant: Even the Panchen Lama, an ally of the Chinese government, estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the population had been imprisoned, and the other credible estimates are that as much as 20 percent of the population may have been executed, starved to death, or otherwise eliminated. For a while, conditions in Tibet horrified even the Chinese leadership, but the liberalization evident at least in economic affairs in China has not been reflected in Tibet. In summary, Smith calls Chinese rule ``illegitimate, oppressive, destructive, barbaric, and a form of state feudalism that has turned all Tibetans into serfs of the Chinese state.'' His conclusion is the more impressive for the care and comprehensiveness with which Smith has assembled the evidence. A monumental study that provides scholarship, insight, and controlled passion.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8133-3155-2

Page Count: 780

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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...


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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