“The relocation was an ill-conceived solution that was inhuman in its design and its effects,” the Canadian government...




No good deed goes unpunished. So discover the Inuit band that brought Nanook of the North to the silver screen.

At the outset of this vigorous work of historical detection by UK journalist McGrath (Motel Nirvana, 1996), Canadian outdoorsman Robert Flaherty arrives at Cape Dufferin, in the northeastern Hudson Bay country. He has been here before, having explored it for railroad magnate Sir William MacKenzie, but now he is on his own, making a film about Inuit life. The winter is hard, but sharing his hut with a young Inuit woman named Maggie Nujarluktuk makes it more bearable, as does learning the land through the tutelage of a man called Alakariallak, whom he will rename Nanook. It’s a promising setup, established in just a few pages. McGrath ably delivers on the possibilities, which include the inevitable and the tragic. The first category includes the birth of Josephie, Robert and Maggie’s son, whom Robert, a married man back home, will never see or attempt to contact. The second follows years later, when, in the interest of establishing Canadian claims over the Arctic in a race against the Soviet Union and other powers, the Cape Dufferin band is moved hundreds of miles north. Those who take pains to emphasize the Canadian government’s enlightened policy toward First Peoples in contrast to the Yanks’ murderous ways will not be pleased by the outcome. It, too, seems inevitable: Even as Flaherty enters film history with Nanook of the North, and later Man of Aran, the subject of the first starves to death and his people suffer every pain and indignity—one tiny example of which is that the government school established for the children years later contains only two books, one of them Roads of Texas.

“The relocation was an ill-conceived solution that was inhuman in its design and its effects,” the Canadian government admitted half-a-century after the fact. McGrath’s careful study provides ample evidence.

Pub Date: April 5, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-4047-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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