CHILDREN OF ``THE TROUBLES''

OUR LIVES IN THE CROSSFIRE OF NORTHERN IRELAND

An occasionally powerful collection of young people's memories and impressions of Northern Ireland's violent civil strife. Holliday continues her Children of Conflict series (Children of the Holocaust and World War II, not reviewed) with this collection of brief essays, poems, and diary entries that people sent to her in response to her requests made through newspapers and schools. Because the 60 children, young adults, and adults (recalling events from the heights of ``the Troubles'' when they were children) were not responding to a specific questionnaire, the results are not always focused, detailed, or engaging. The author considers it a ``testament to these writers' courage . . . that not a single person in this anthology asked to be anonymous,'' but lack of anonymity (and the b&w photos of each contributor) prevents those who admit having committed sectarian crimes from discussing their acts in detail, and thus keeps much of the collection blanketed in banality. The book opens with a young Irishman's teenage memories of how he ``split a black soldier's head open'' during a riot, and then vomited after seeing a woman keeping watch over her dead son's corpse, ``his intestines hanging out like snails.'' While the book never again captures such drama or gore, there are passages about Catholic boys being savaged by British militia for the crime of carrying empty milk bottles and petrol (popular ingredients of handmade bombs) and the anger, fear, and grief felt by Protestants in the wake of IRA bombings. The anthology is at its best when offering first-hand accounts of hunger-striker Bobby Sands's funeral, expressing resentment over terrorists targeting even the milkman of a police officer, and conveying the courage of ``pigs in the middle,'' who socialize and sympathize with the other side. The bibliography and chronology add to the book's value as a teaching tool for high schoolers, but adults will find this collection lacking the more candid and unrehearsed eloquence of other first-person works on ``the Troubles.''

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-671-53736-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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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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