THE FALL OF HONG KONG

BRITAIN'S BETRAYAL AND CHINA'S TRIUMPH

Roberti, a former Hong Kong correspondent for AsiaWeek, has followed the convoluted negotiations between China and Britain over the last few years and has produced a formidable narrative of high diplomatic deception and expediency. Britain took Hong Kong from China on a 99-year lease due to expire in 1997. But China has always tolerated this high-powered capitalist outpost not so much because of the technicalities of a lease as for the huge quantities of hard currency she derived from it. Roberti, like many, seems to think that the British had a shot at keeping Hong Kong out of China's clutches. But Britain wanted good relations with the Communist giant and was not prepared to sour them over Hong Kong. He also points the finger of accusation at Hong Kong's own commercial elite, who, he claims, wanted a no- fuss complicity with Beijing at the price of suppressing democracy: ``an unholy alliance of capitalists and communists.'' A colony lawyer named Martin Lee, however, had misgivings, aroused by the treaty signed by Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Ziyang in 1984. ``One country, two systems,'' the promise of a democratic Hong Kong allied with mainland China, seemed unlikely. Giving a voice to Hong Kong's ordinary people, Lee organized vociferous protest against the British sell-out. In the process, he became ``more recognizable than the governor and more popular than many pop stars.'' But the pro-democracy movement has made no difference to the eventual outcome. And here there are unpleasant truths that Roberti seems reluctant to face. Were the British really ``forcing'' Hong Kong to live under a dictatorship? The reality, surely, was that the territory's residents no longer had the power to back their wishes up. The notion of a conspiracy, though, always makes for a better read, and Roberti is certainly deft in showing us one. A shame only that he could not come up with a better villain than poor old knock-kneed Britain.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 1994

ISBN: 0-471-02621-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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