A NATION OF ENEMIES

CHILE UNDER PINOCHET

Constable and Valenzuela use quotes gathered through interviews with members of every sector of Chilean society to present a varied, if somewhat superficial, view of life under the 16-year dictatorship of General Pinochet. The authors stress that President Allende was elected with less than 50 percent of the popular vote and show how his accelerated course toward socialism eliminated powerful sectors of the nation, including the army, the business elite and a larger portion of the urban middle class. But the military dictatorship that followed similarly alienated a large part of the population after it became apparent that Pinochet planned to maintain his seat rather than return to a Democratic tradition. The authors recount how Pinochet's ``Chicago boys''—hard-core believers in the free market theories they learned at the University of Chicago—caused a bust and boom of the national economy. The boom had 14,000 citizens rushing to get their first credit cards, and the following bust saw small businesses fail and their owners and managers become taxi drivers who worked ``in tweed jackets and ties, invariably with a tale of dignity destroyed and dreams evaporated.'' Just as the dictatorship's first economic boom was based on credit and unsustainable growth, so too was Pinochet's social program based on appearances rather than on improved life for the poor. While infant mortality—an internationally recognized measure of prosperity—fell dramatically, the gains were made at the expense of health-care access for the elderly and indigent. In the end, however, the authors argue that the lessons learned from the brief presidency of Allende and the 16 years of Pinochet taught Chileans ``a new appreciation for the values of moderation and compromise.'' While many of the statements of the average Chilean Joe help to present a picture of life under the dictatorship, one wonders whether some of the comments, especially those made by Pinochet's collaborators, can be taken at face value.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-03011-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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