By squaring the storm to its social consequences, Hemingway drains any lingering romance one might have with tornadoes as...

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A WORLD TURNED OVER

A KILLER TORNADO AND THE LIVES IT CHANGED FOREVER

The story of the Candlestick Tornado, in Jackson, Mississippi, as told by Hemingway (Walk on Water, 1998, etc.): a tale as portentous and coolly menacing as the sky that March afternoon in 1966.

Hemingway lived for a spell as a kid in South Jackson, a new and ordered world of small mall and subdivision, and she knew the people who lived there. She and her family moved away only months before the woolly spring weather delivered a tornado to the neighborhood and turned it into a killing field. So there is a sense of indwelling to her writing, which she tempers to fit the mood of the story—like skipping stones as it tells of the town's daily life in the 1960s, wary as she shapes its history, silky and sinister as a bad dream when the weather turns murderous. At first, the tornado has a dreamy quality: the queer light (“pale green the color of spring grass shoots or yellow as a lemon skin”), the atmospheric compression and fantastic supernatural presence of the wind—“It sounded,” she says, “like a heartbeat.” She does a terrifying job describing the tornado—glass shards thickening the air, the choking dust and live wires and fire, the surreal story of a woman and her child in their Volkswagen lifted high into the sky, above the old oak trees, then lowered by the wind as gently as you would place a china cup on a marble table—a scene best summed up in another woman's words, “the world had rolled over.” The aftermath, both proximate to the event and 34 years later, when Hemingway returns to take testimony, is a rude as the storm, one of those “milestones of dark discovery, by initiation into the deliberate and unholy knowledge of the mortal.” Her profiles of a handful of the survivors are touching and as conductive as copper wire.

By squaring the storm to its social consequences, Hemingway drains any lingering romance one might have with tornadoes as sublime forces of nature.

Pub Date: July 11, 2002

ISBN: 0-684-85634-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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