An intimate, eye-opening chronicle that should serve as an alarm to fragile democratic republics around the world.

Pertinent, mournful reflections on how mainland China continues to tighten its grip on the freedoms held so dear by the Hong Kong community.

Clifford, who has made his living in the city as a journalist and newspaper publisher since 1992, begins with a vital question: “How did a beacon of prosperity and freedom, a city of peaceful rallies where fathers stood vigil with their school-age children, find itself transformed into a place of firebombing and tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition?” The author begins in 2014 with the Occupy Central movement, which, after initially dying down, regained momentum in the summer of 2019 following the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4. Soon after, writes Clifford, the government, “angered at its inability to bring Hong Kong to heel and convinced that Western plots to overthrow China lay at the roots of the protests, responded by ushering in an ominous new phase with the July 1, 2020 imposition of a draconian National Security Law and subsequent arrests of dozens of leaders of the democracy movement.” The author believes these crackdowns are reminiscent of the violent practices embraced during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong, when neighbor turned against neighbor, student against teacher. In addition to a potent personal narrative, Clifford widens his scope to encompass the larger-scale, nefarious intentions of Beijing to maintain control over its satellites. The government’s methods have included efforts to tamp down Hong Kong’s Cantonese speakers and to lock down the film industry via censorship and plot alterations (a topic that Erich Schwartzel investigates comprehensively in his recent book, Red Carpet). An agile observer and diligent journalist, Clifford leads us through Hong Kong’s fraught modern history in relation to the striving for democratic freedoms, and he reveals many stark consequences brought about by the suppression of its spirit.

An intimate, eye-opening chronicle that should serve as an alarm to fragile democratic republics around the world.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27917-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022



A powerful guide to national reconciliation.

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In this nonfiction book, an activist and scholar shares strategies for peace and reconciliation based on her experiences in West Africa.

More than a decade ago, Hoffman listened to her internal “soul-whispers” calling her to help facilitate peace in civil war–torn Sierra Leone. Drawing from her successful collaboration with local activists, she not only provides a contemporary history of a successful West African peace movement, but also offers a tested strategy for national reconciliation. “The answers are there,” as the book’s title suggests, if only people heed the “larger whispering echoing through our world—a part of our collective, unconscious, awakening, wanting us to listen and receive.” Indeed, listening lies at the center of the volume’s strategy. Fifteen years ago, Hoffman co-founded the nongovernmental organization Fambul Tok with John Caulker, a human rights activist from Sierra Leone. Meaning Family Talk in Krio, Fambul Tok centered on the voices and perspectives of those directly impacted by the nation’s civil war. The organization facilitated more than 200 “tradition-based community bonfire ceremonies of truth-telling, apology, and forgiveness,” involving more than 2,500 villages, 4,500 speakers, and over 150,000 witnesses. Though these events required Sierra Leone to confront “difficult truths,” they became the “taproot…of community healing” and are featured not only in this book, but also in Hoffman’s award-winning 2011 documentary, Fambul Tok. To the author, a former political science professor, they also reveal an alternative solution to Western involvement in Africa, which has traditionally manifested as a top-down, money-centered approach that failed to tap into the “real reasons for peace—healthy and whole communities.” While the volume could have used visual aids like maps and photographs, its account carefully balances an astute scholarly analysis of African geopolitics and Western aid with an intimate portrayal of Sierra Leone’s citizenry. With forewords by the country’s current minister of state in the Office of Vice President and the British director of the Institute for State Effectiveness as well as an afterword by Caulker, this volume has much to teach about the ways in which Western organizations and activists can effect positive global change through humility, listening, and empowering local communities.

A powerful guide to national reconciliation.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-9862030-1-0

Page Count: 313

Publisher: Blue Chair Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2022


An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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