Lucid—and, as recent events attest, prescient—examination of Gorbachev's domestic performance, which Goldman (Gorbachev's Challenge, 1987, etc.) argues has led to the economic collapse and political disintegration of the USSR. Goldman performs what he terms an ``autopsy'' on Gorbachev's failure to reform his nation. While praising the Soviet leader's stalwart efforts, the author contends that Gorbachev made several serious mistakes in repeatedly reversing his policy course. Starting out with a traditional emphasis on the machine-tool industry and on the creation of superministries as the basis of wide-scale reform, Gorbachev learned in less than two years that such means would yield only minor adjustments. According to Goldman, Gorbachev then (at the same time he was promoting human- rights reforms and glasnost) tried out an inconsistent series of new approaches, swinging toward a market economy, then away. Economic advisors came and went; comprehensive plans were proposed, modified, shelved; central planning weakened, and factory managers first bartered with each other for supplies, then closed down plants or reduced production. Goldman points out that, unlike in the West, where economic depression is generally caused by lack of demand, in the USSR a depression has arisen from a collapse in supply. The author also explores the political and economic landscape Gorbachev inherited, his rise from an obscure farm town to international fame, the resistance of hard-liners, and the possible future of reform. Incisive and expert road map to the intricacies of recent Soviet history.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-03071-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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