The latest in a splendid series by Schell (Discos and Democracy, 1988, etc.), extending over 20 years and tracking momentous changes in the world's most populous country. Beginning almost where he left off in his last book, Schell describes the events at Tiananmen Square and their aftermath. The square has long been both a symbol of the power of successive regimes as well as a traditional site at which dissent was expressed. The demonstrations, which extended far beyond a rarefied group of students, journalists, and intellectuals, soon began to involve the urban proletariat, the very vanguard of the revolution. Deng Xiaoping, having crushed their dissent with great brutality, concluded that only economic development would save the regime. Deng is the latest in the line of Chinese reformers who have believed that China could borrow the technology and managerial methods of the West without affecting Chinese culture and values. For the moment, says Schell, the middle class has struck a Faustian bargain with the Communist Party, forgoing political confrontation while economic liberalization continues. ``By 1991,'' Schell notes, ``almost nobody in China was taking Marxism seriously.'' But the country presents the paradox of almost wild capitalist enthusiasm (with strange elements, including the success of a $1,500 limited edition Mao watch with diamond- and sapphire-studded gold casing) and a Stalinist security apparatus that presides over labor camps with 1020 million prisoners. China is now, Schell writes, irrevocably part of the world economic system, but he does not venture to predict the outcome. Schell doesn't give as immediate a sense of life in China as do Kristof and WuDunn in China Wakes (p. 826), nor has he travelled as widely, but he brings great analytical power and understanding to one of the most important political stories of our time. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-70132-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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