An account that makes it difficult for American readers to ignore their country’s role in violence south of the border.

READ REVIEW

THE HOLLYWOOD KID

THE VIOLENT LIFE AND VIOLENT DEATH OF AN MS-13 HITMAN

An MS-13 hit man–turned-informer provides extraordinary access to the co-authors before meeting his fate.

“This is a book about scraps,” write journalist Óscar Martínez (A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America, 2016, etc.) and his ethnographer brother, Juan José Martínez. By “scraps,” they don’t mean the colloquial fights, though their narrative is filled with those, many of them lethal. They mean discards, “leftovers that the enormous machinery of the United States chucks across its borders.” In a vicious cycle, the violence bred in Los Angeles, where gang warfare pits ethnicities against each other, returns home through deportation and spreads and increases through international networks to become a threat to governments in both countries. Though Miguel Ángel Tobar never left his native El Salvador or came close to the Hollywood that earned him his nickname, he was a murderer before his teens, ultimately responsible for so much of the bloodshed that would make his homeland “the most murderous country in the world.” Yet this story is as much about the international forces that shaped the killer who operated below the international radar as the violence spread by U.S. policies that support the repressive regimes in the countries where gang members can recruit acolytes to form larger and deadlier gangs. Caught in this cycle, Tobar turned informer for the police, testifying at trials behind a mask, his voice doctored, though his identity apparently wasn’t much in doubt. Between police corruption that spread to prisons that were controlled by the gangs and the brutal justice that gang loyalty demanded, the fate of the informer was never in doubt, either—it wasn’t a matter of if, but when. The immediate narrative both begins and ends with Tobar’s death, but in between, he shares his story of a life that offered few choices, none of them good.

An account that makes it difficult for American readers to ignore their country’s role in violence south of the border.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78663-493-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more