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TAIWAN

FIFTY THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW

A clear and comprehensive guide to a complex locale.

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A brief but practical and thorough introduction to Taiwan.

Brooklyn-based writer and counselor Altman visited Taiwan for the first time in 1995 and was immediately enchanted by what he called a “place of extraordinary natural beauty.” He would return many times and developed a deep appreciation for Taiwan’s complex past and rich culture as well as the threatened democracy’s global importance. The author aims to deliver an “educational and entertaining” primer, and he largely succeeds, beginning with a brief but impressively synoptic history that includes the original settlement of the territory by people of Austronesian heritage tens of thousands of years ago. The book is as practical as it is whimsical; one learns practical tips, such as how to navigate the Taiwanese metro and shop for bubble tea, but also about the national dog and the ubiquity of musical garbage trucks. Altman also discusses Taiwan’s fraught political history with great clarity, particularly in relation to China, and concludes his book with an impassioned case for its independence: “As a democratic society, the Taiwanese people should be able to decide their own future in any way that they see fit.” For those with limited knowledge of Taiwan and especially for those planning to visit, this introduction is helpful and easy to digest. Altman’s style is lucidly informal, and he manages not only to prepare the first-time visitor for day-to-day aspects of a trip—for instance, there’s a lengthy discussion of the prevalence of Wi-Fi connections—but he also limns a vivid portrait of Taiwan’s national identity. The author clearly writes out of great personal affection for the area and its inhabitants, and, as such, his accounts can feel a touch rosy; one gets the impression it’s a place that’s rich in virtue and virtually free of vice. This minor quibble aside, it’s an easy, enjoyable and informative read.

A clear and comprehensive guide to a complex locale.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2021

ISBN: 979-8755698757

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Gaupo Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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