THE DENG XIAOPING ERA

AN INQUIRY INTO THE FATE OF CHINESE SOCIALISM, 1978-1994

A case of life imitating stereotype, with Meisner (History/Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) expressing the hope that socialism in China may be rescued by a revolution against the Communist regime. There are two aims in this book: a ``historical narrative of post-Mao China'' and ``an extended commentary on the fate of socialism in late-twentieth century China.'' Much of the narrative is useful, including a good analysis of how Deng Xiaoping consolidated his power, how he maneuvered to isolate his anointed successor Zhao Ziyang, and Zhao's motives in opposing him at the time of the uprising in Tiananmen Square. As Meisner notes, Deng's commitment to socialism and democracy did not long survive his accession to power. He showed great finesse in wooing the youth and intelligentsia, and promptly forgot about them. The value of the analysis of socialism is something else. He points out that socialism, at least in its simplistic Stalinist rendering, ``meant little more than the nationalization of productive property.'' This notion, he justly observes, was not only appealing in its simplicity, but ``no threat to bureaucratic rule.'' But his own conception suggests a view of socialism that may never have been tried. Other bothersome aspects include an unskeptical treatment of statistics, the more surprising in a period when Soviet statistics have been revealed to be dramatically inaccurate. Most ``odd, or at best quixotic,'' to use his own description, is his apparent hope that ``something of socialism can be salvaged within the framework of the existing sociopolitical system,'' and that some kind of socialist revolution against the ``savage capitalism'' of the Communist government may do the trick. Further evidence perhaps that the most passionate defenders of old-fashioned ``socialism'' may still be found on American campuses.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8090-7815-5

Page Count: 537

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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