First-rate reporting, sometimes alarming and always informative, from a writer whose heart instructs his mind and animates...

TIBET, TIBET

A PERSONAL HISTORY OF A LOST LAND

After extensive travel in the varied landscapes of Tibet, British journalist French (Liberty or Death, 1997, etc.) concludes that no freedom can come to this fabled land until liberty first invades and then pervades China.

To produce his splendid account, the determined and intrepid author read everything he could about the region; traveled its length and breadth by foot, wheezing bus, and coughing car; visited people in areas so remote they poked him with curious fingers to see if he was real; interviewed outcasts and officials, hookers and the Dalai Lama; dodged humorless security forces; ate native food so challenging that even reading about it makes the stomach rebel; stayed in rooms so fetid that their odors seem to adhere to the page. There is not much to laugh about, but French does occasionally flash the bright blade of irony, as in his discussion of accommodations in western Tibet, where, he writes, “the Hotel Clean Cheap . . . was dirty and overpriced.” The author begins and ends with the1998 suicide of a man he knew as a cook in the Himalayas, Ngodup, who burned himself to death in New Delhi to protest the United Nation’s ineffectual Tibetan policies. French himself chides the US for abandoning the area after Nixon went to China and is also critical of showbiz types who treat Tibet as if it were a movie set and the people quaint medievals. But he is most unforgiving in his descriptions of the horrors wrought upon the region during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when the Red Guards swarmed into Tibet, destroying, torturing, and killing. However, the commonly cited figure of 1.2 million Tibetans dead is much too high, French argues, presenting evidence that it was closer to 500,000.

First-rate reporting, sometimes alarming and always informative, from a writer whose heart instructs his mind and animates his pen. (3 maps)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2003

ISBN: 1-4000-4100-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more