A pointed, relentless chronicle of a despicable part of past American foreign policy.

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

REVOLUTION AND TERROR IN AMERICA’S COLONY

Scathing examination of American colonial policy in Puerto Rico, culminating in the violent, brief revolution of 1950 and its brutal suppression.

Filmmaker, former editorial director of El Diario and New York State Assemblyman Denis seethes at the injustices inflicted on the small island protectorate of Puerto Rico since it was seized from Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898 and relegated to being a base for President Theodore Roosevelt’s “big stick” policy in the Caribbean. According to the prevalent racial policy of the time, Puerto Ricans were considered too ignorant and uncivilized for self-rule. Massive sugar cane–grinding mills run by American corporations would soon dot the tropical landscape, and the impoverished inhabitants were enlisted in the backbreaking labor of cutting and processing the cane for pennies a day. In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the island a territory, not a state, and thus the U.S. Constitution did not apply, denying the workers any fair labor policies enjoyed by U.S. citizens. A Nationalist Party was formed at the same time, closely followed and infiltrated by the FBI, according to documents the author secured. The Ponce massacre of March 1937—when the police opened fire on unarmed cadets marching through the town square, killing 19 and wounding over 200 people—galvanized unrest and rebellion. In telling this gruesome and little-recorded history, Denis concentrates on the personalities involved: the corrupt governor Luis Muñoz Marín; the Harvard-educated Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos; the documentarian of the Nationalist cause, Juan Emilio Viguié; and the humble barber Vidal Santiago Díaz, whose Salón Boricua became the fulcrum of dissent and political organization. The 1950 rebellion concluded horrifically in violent death or imprisonment at San Juan’s notorious La Princesa prison. Denis produces compelling evidence of U.S. government–sponsored radiation and other medical experiments inflicted on prisoners.

A pointed, relentless chronicle of a despicable part of past American foreign policy.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56858-501-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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