A provocative collection that is thoughtful in both scope and attention to detail.

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THE MARTIN DUBERMAN READER

THE ESSENTIAL HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, AND AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITINGS

Selections from the prolific writings of the prize-winning author and dramatist.

Born in 1930, Duberman (History Emeritus/CUNY Graduate School; Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left, 2012, etc.) has been a participant in, and witness to, many of the significant historical events of the last 50 years. As the founder of the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at CUNY and a participant in the development of the movement for gay rights, Duberman's account of the Stonewall riots of 1969 is exemplary of his overall approach, a mix of the historical and the personal. Under the rubric of social and economic justice, he writes about the relationship between individuals and society, along with the struggle for political and personal/sexual freedoms. He discusses the antebellum abolitionist movement and provides thumbnail biographies that frame the question of “normal” vs. “neurotic.” Duberman works these themes into his treatment of the civil rights, black nationalist and gay rights movements. The author does not offer broad generalizations, but particular exemplification: the career of Paul Robeson and his struggle against racism, Howard Zinn's involvement with the 1950s civil rights movement in Atlanta, and the actions of the Student National Coordinating Committee, the Gay Academic Union and the National Gay Task Force. He also examines the tragedy of AIDS and the issue of racism in the gay male community, and he offers incendiary thoughts on the death of Ronald Reagan, lionized by most but disdained by the author for his refusal to assist in AIDS research (“Reagan wouldn’t lift a finger to foster research or to combat the mounting epidemic in any way. Mr. Compassion couldn’t even say the AIDS word”) or provide any protection of the civil liberties of minorities.

A provocative collection that is thoughtful in both scope and attention to detail.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59558-679-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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