A specific, targeted, and nuanced exploration of how the Korean War and Cold War–era battlefield moved inside and became a...




An academic study of the changing nature of war post-1945 in terms of the struggle to claim political recognition of the prisoner of war, specifically within the Korean War.

In this dense and compelling work, Kim (History/New York Univ.) deeply investigates the POW repatriation tactics used as political propaganda on both sides of the Korean War. When the 38th parallel shifted from a temporary border between American and Soviet spheres of military occupation to a sovereign border between the China-bolstered Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the U.S.–occupied Republic of Korea, the POW became the pawn between the two sides; the DPRK insisted on “mandatory” repatriation, while the ROK argued for voluntary. “The figure of the prisoner of war,” writes the author, “was essentially a distillation of the relationship between the state and its subject….Through the [POW], one could challenge both the legitimacy of the enemy state’s governance and the superiority of the enemy state’s conduce of warfare.” Moreover, while the interrogation rooms were flexible in how they manifested—“an idealized site of regulated and willing exchange”—the interrogator and translator on the American side was most often a Japanese-American man who had spent his adolescence incarcerated in U.S. internment camps during World War II; thus, he became an instrument in the U.S. “liberal” state’s efforts at decolonization and state-building. Kim explores how this generation brought its painful former experiences with internment to the interrogation room within the landscape of a former Japanese colony. The author also leads us through the reams of documentation needed to build this new war of bureaucracy and examines troubling instances of “mutiny” and “brainwashing.”

A specific, targeted, and nuanced exploration of how the Korean War and Cold War–era battlefield moved inside and became a new “struggle of political legitimacy waged within human psyches, souls, and desires.”

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-691-16622-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


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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