Nonetheless, these nostalgic depictions of direct-action protest may well inspire a new radical generation.

WE TOOK THE STREETS

FIGHTING FOR LATINO RIGHTS WITH THE YOUNG LORDS

Didactic account of nationalism and empowerment in New York’s Puerto Rican community during the 1960s and ’70s.

Melendez describes growing up in a poor, gang-ridden neighborhood that still valued its communal Puerto Rican heritage. He was gradually politicized, alongside like-minded comrades, at the local colleges that recruited them as token minorities: “We all wanted to look like, and emulate, Che,” he says of the Young Lords, a group that first attracted attention with a garbage-burning to protest inadequate trash removal in El Barrio (as opposed to affluent districts). The group’s m.o. became “a balance of embarrassing the state . . . and being able to present popular solutions to address the issue at hand.” The Young Lords occupied a conservative church that rebuffed their efforts at social programs, then formed their own underground wing (inspired by acquaintance with the violence-prone Weathermen), “dedicated to offensive and defensive military action under the political direction of the party.” This militancy was evident in later operations, like the hijacking of a city X-ray truck to draw attention to El Barrio’s TB epidemic, and a takeover of the South Bronx’s benighted Lincoln Hospital (where Melendez later contributed to a crucial heroin detox program), which stirred support from progressive doctors but resentment from the police. Inevitably, the Young Lords received hostile scrutiny from the FBI’s Cointelpro, and Melendez suggests the agency had a hand in member Julio Roldán’s death, which “was pivotal in bringing about our disintegration.” Although the group’s influence faded, Melendez continued to pursue Puerto Rican rights and independence. (He teaches today at Boricua College.) His memoir depicts turbulent times and exhaustively addresses the essential inequities in minority communities that provoked such strife. But his sonorous and preachy prose, seething with 30-year-old grievances, is not terribly inviting, and his revolutionary rhetoric is painfully dated.

Nonetheless, these nostalgic depictions of direct-action protest may well inspire a new radical generation.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-26701-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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