Though brief, this collection of urgent reports deserves a wide audience—and not just in Mexico.

THE SORROWS OF MEXICO

A steely band of courageous Mexican journalists respond to the violence and corruption overwhelming their country—to great personal and professional peril.

In a series of elucidating and chilling dispatches, expertly translated by a variety of translators, seven well-respected journalists reveal Mexico’s “suppurating wound,” as described by Elena Poniatowska in the powerful preface. Each of the pieces in this work shows an absolute assault on justice and human rights: narcotics trafficking, organized crime, sex trafficking, femicide, violent peasant land struggles, disappeared youth, egregious government coverups, torture, and widespread murder. A recent haunting crime that overshadows several of these dispatches is the Sept. 26, 2014, abduction and disappearance of 43 students on their way to Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, one of the most violent narcotics trafficking states in Mexico. In “Collateral Damage—Living in Mexico,” Juan Villoro, a weekly columnist for Reforma, chronicles the horrendous violence that has overwhelmed the country since President Felipe Calderón’s disastrous war on drug trafficking began in 2006. “The problem…had been around for a long time,” he writes. “But the strategy failed. We were sitting on dynamite and Calderón lit a match to prove it.” In a developing country like Mexico, where a handful of families control the wealth, there is little opportunity for youth to advance outside the cartels, which provide what Villoro calls a sense of “identity and shared codes.” The crimes these journalists delineate seem to have no rhyme or reason save desperation and poverty—e.g., the young women pressed into sex slavery by boyfriends, documented by Diego Enrique Osorno in “Lily Sings Like a Little Bird.” Marcela Turati’s “War Made Me a Feminist” is a heart-rending look at how the violence has devastated women, mothers especially. With a recorded 94 journalists murdered in Mexico between 2000 and 2016 (documented in an appendix), the country has become one of the deadliest places to practice that profession.

Though brief, this collection of urgent reports deserves a wide audience—and not just in Mexico.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-85705-622-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hachette UK

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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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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