SOLDIERS IN A NARROW LAND

THE PINOCHET REGIME IN CHILE

Journalist Spooner presents a narrative of the Pinochet regime through profiles of the major government and opposition figures, many of whom she interviewed. Spooner, who lived in Chile during the Pinochet period (1973- 88), is at her best when discussing Chile prior to the 1973 military coup that toppled Socialist President Salvador Allende's government. General Augusto Pinochet comes across as a very limited provincial man entirely unsuited for any political role. The junta, and Pinochet in particular, were perennially suspicious of the United States and naturally quite resentful of the US arms embargo. Spooner notes the ironic fact that, under the junta, Chile was actually less militarily secure because of the embargo and Pinochet's purging of the foreign service. The junta was hurt even more by several public relations campaigns in the US that only further alienated Congress. Spooner is particularly adept at writing about the so-called ``Chicago Boys,'' those young Chilean economists who were trained at the University of Chicago, known for its conservative free-market approach. In one amusing anecdote, Spooner tells how David Rockefeller, visiting Santiago, praised the Chicago Boys. When asked what advice he would offer workers whose earnings were devoured by inflation, the millionaire suggested they elect officials to improve the economy, ``as the Americans had done in voting for Ronald Reagan.'' Rockefeller had put his foot in his mouth—there were no free elections in Chile. Although the Reagan administration lifted some sanctions (but not the arms embargo), relations were still more sour than sweet between Santiago and Washington during the 1980s, long before Pinochet lost a plebiscite in 1988. Spooner writes about an important subject, but her style is often repetitive. Yet the book has merit largely because it graphically details the dismemberment of the democratic process in Chile.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-520-08083-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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