STONEWALL

An engrossing—and long-overdue—look at one of the seminal events in the history of gay activism: the Stonewall Riots of June 27-July 2, 1969. By filtering the genesis and events of the riots through the lives of four gay men and two lesbians who were participants, Duberman (Cures, 1991, etc.; History/CUNY) lends immediacy and emotional impact to his narrative. In addition, the diversity of the protagonists' backgrounds—black, Hispanic, WASP, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Christian Scientist—underscores the commonality of the homosexual experience and of gay reactions to legalized intolerance of homosexuality. Of special relevance is Duberman's concise overview of the period in general and of the frequently collaborative but occasionally oppositional agendas that characterized the pre-Stonewall homophile organizations and that laid the groundwork for the love/hate relationship marking many of today's gay-liberation groups. The six featured here range from Foster Gunnison, Jr., a meticulous, buttoned-up Ph.D., to Sylvia Rivera, an in-your-face transvestite and Times Square hustler. Duberman points out that the uprising that erupted outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village was a spontaneous expression of gay frustration, as well as a refusal to put up with the police harassment that was a commonplace of gay life during the 1960's. It's uncertain who first lashed back at police manhandling when the bar was raided. The Stonewall itself- -grubby, Mafia-run, overpriced—was an unlikely candidate for historic landmark status. Duberman argues that the management, by paying off police officials, had been warned about earlier raids but that this time, federal agents—aware of the police bribes and informed that the liquor served at the bar was bootlegged or hijacked—conducted the raid suddenly and unexpectedly. And so it was that police corruption indirectly contributed to the emergence of gay liberation. An important and absorbing addition to gay studies. (B&w photos—not seen)

Pub Date: May 6, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93602-5

Page Count: 315

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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