An illuminating look at the historical impact of America’s illicit economy.

SMUGGLER NATION

HOW ILLICIT TRADE MADE AMERICA

Andreas (Political Science/Brown Univ.; Blue Helmets and Black Markets: The Business of Survival in the Siege of Sarajevo, 2008, etc.) explores American history and its relationship with smuggling and illegal trade and “how these illicit flows—and the campaigns to police them—defined and shaped the nation.”

In this well-researched history, the author examines illegal commerce in the United States from its earliest days into the modern era. In colonial times, citizens strenuously and at times violently resisted attempts to curb widespread illegal trade of such products as molasses and wine, and even landmark events such as the Boston Tea Party were influenced by smuggling issues. Andreas shows how American history has been profoundly affected by the subtle (and sometimes, as in the case of Prohibition, not-so-subtle) effects of illegal trade and by government attempts to control it. The author is most engaging when he focuses on key events, such as when Gen. Andrew Jackson recruited smuggler and pirate Jean Laffite to help defend New Orleans during the War of 1812. The section on complexities of the slave trade is especially eye-opening. The final third of the book, focusing in large part on drug smuggling and America’s long-running drug war, is skillfully presented and contextualized: “[F]ar from deterring the drug trade,” writes the author, “American-led supply suppression campaigns ended up mostly dispersing and rerouting it.” Though Andreas’ prose is occasionally a bit on the academic side, he makes a strong case that America is not only a smuggler nation, but also “an ever-expanding police nation.”

An illuminating look at the historical impact of America’s illicit economy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-19-974688-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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