An engrossing, peek-between-your-fingers history of an American city on the edge.

THE YEAR OF DANGEROUS DAYS

RIOTS, REFUGEES, AND COCAINE IN MIAMI 1980

Race, cocaine, politics, and corruption all figure in this portrayal of a violent showdown in 1980 Miami.

Miami-based journalist Griffin employs his trade with gusto in this deeply investigated account of real American carnage at the height of the drug war. The narrative begins with the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black former Marine who was killed by police after a high-speed chase. The events that follow would have massive ramifications. Rather than simply depicting the big picture, the author zeroes in on three critical figures to parse the tumult from different points of view: Edna Buchanan was the Miami Herald crime reporter who not only fielded the murder investigation, but unearthed the vein of corruption and police brutality inside the department. Inside the police force, we meet Capt. Marshall Frank, the lead investigator, who characterized the McDuffie case as a “jigsaw puzzle.” Charged with uniting the city in the face of multiple crises was Mayor Maurice Ferré, who engaged the media, the tourist industry, and the city’s powerful businessmen to help a simmering city that was on the verge of falling apart. Two other factors added dynamite to the bonfire. One was the infamous Mariel boatlift, during which Fidel Castro attempted to rid his country of criminals, patients in insane asylums, troublesome activists, and other “antisocial elements” by dumping 125,000 Cuban refugees into the state of Florida. The other was the relatively new phenomenon of cocaine smuggling, which added significantly to both the proliferation of corruption and the city’s crime rate, especially violent crimes. This is a series of stories that have been depicted in other books and publications, but Griffin’s engrossing use of primary sources and cogent analyses of how all the pieces fit together results in a propulsive story about the dangerous ways people learn to live together.

An engrossing, peek-between-your-fingers history of an American city on the edge.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9102-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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