The hits continue. Bring on the ’70s.

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THE 60S

THE STORY OF A DECADE

The third installment in the esteemed magazine’s superb decades series.

As current New Yorker editor David Remnick astutely notes in his introduction, the tenor of the 1960s didn’t necessarily jibe with the magazine’s editor, William Shawn, whose “voice was barely a whisper in a raucous time.” However, Shawn was “determined to change” the publication, and during the ’60s, it “became more politically engaged, more formally daring, more vivid, and more intellectually exciting than it had ever been or wished to be.” Those are bold words considering the outstanding work published in the New Yorker during the 1940s and ’50s, but the selections on display here certainly warrant the praise. As in previous volumes, the contributor list is an embarrassment of riches: Rachel Carson, James Baldwin, Calvin Trillin, E.B. White, John Updike, Renata Adler, Sylvia Plath, and John McPhee, among other top names. The book is divided into sections such as “Reckonings,” “Farther Shores,” and “New Arrivals,” and each features an insightful introduction from a current New Yorker contributor (Kelefa Sanneh, Jill Lepore, George Packer, Evan Osnos et al.). For fans of the magazine (and long-form journalism fans in general), the majority of the collection will be highly engaging, and even the “Brief Encounters” offer sparks of excellence—e.g., Lillian Ross on Glenn Gould, Hendrik Hertzberg on The Who. There are also numerous pieces that have since become classics: Carson’s “Silent Spring,” Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” and Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood: The Corner,” which Remnick calls “the most sensational publication of the decade for the magazine,” one which “Shawn quietly came to regret” due to its “lurid” violence. And yes, even though, as Remnick rightly points out, the New Yorker has never been known for its rock journalism, there are solid pieces on Bob Dylan (Nat Hentoff), Woodstock (Ellen Willis), and the Newport Jazz Festival (Whitney Balliett).

The hits continue. Bring on the ’70s.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-679-64483-5

Page Count: 752

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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