Tragic, sometimes thrilling but terrifying life of a young Vietnamese whose woes abroad have nonetheless landed him in the US, where he graduated from Bennington and in 1992 received an MFA from Brown. ``Jade'' Ngoc Quang Huynh's 12 childhood years on the Mekong Delta went by like a dream compared with the hell that befell his family of 17 children when the Tet offensive exploded on New Year's 1968. Then, between the black-pajamaed Viet Cong psychopaths threatening the Huynhs and the American choppers shooting up the delta, Jade and his family found themselves swimming from one wave of horror to the next—through bursting bullets, mined roads, and sharpened stakes—while attempting to reach a second family dwelling in Vinh Binh City. Once there, they had nothing, while the war went on ``like a chronic disease.'' Eventually, Jade lost six brothers and sisters as well as other family members. At 18, he was attending Saigon University when the city fell to the invaders, and he soon found himself facing indoctrination, then being sent to a labor camp simply for being a student. There, he was given explosively dangerous work clearing mines, was tortured and lived among men tortured incessantly, starved, ate lizards, rats, and crickets to stay alive, watched men murdered by proselytizers for Ho Chi Minh, buried the dead, built dikes for rice fields, and hoped for a Cambodian invasion in which he might escape during the confusion. After three years, he escapeed and ended up in a refugee camp. A lost brother, a pilot whom he thought dead, turned out to be alive in Mississippi, sent money, and told him to relocate in the States. He learned English flipping Big Macs at McDonald's, and at last began his US education. Amid nature's beauty, hope survives an incredible bloodbath.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-55597-198-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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