The welter of unfamiliar names of places, organizations and people makes for slow reading (maps and a cast of characters...

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CONSUMING THE CONGO

WAR AND CONFLICT MINERALS IN THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST PLACE

Once again, a journalist familiar with African politics, economics and culture tells a shocking story of widespread corruption, greed and bloody violence, this time in a region rich in tin and coltan, minerals used in the manufacture electronic devices.

As Africa Editor for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting at The Hague, Eichstaedt (Pirate State: Inside Terrorism at Sea, 2010; etc.) traveled around the eastern Congo giving workshops to train local journalists and talking to militia leaders, former child soldiers, businessmen, aid workers and victims. A two-chapter side journey into neighboring Sudan, which seems rather out-of-place here, demonstrates that ethnic rivalries and fighting over a country’s resources is not unique to the Congo. However, the eastern Congo has become “the rape capital of the world”—and, with more than five million dead in the last decade, the site of “the deadliest human catastrophe since World War II.” Eichstaedt’s reporting reveals in grim detail how rival ethnic militias and the national Congolese army fight for control over the region’s rich mines, how villagers are routinely slain with guns or machetes or by being burned alive, how pick-and-shovel miners are heavily taxed by unpaid soldiers and how rape has become a tactic of war. In their own words, his interviewees often provide unrealistic solutions to their predicament or show a calm acceptance of the chaos and violence around them. The answer, writes the author, is not simply a ban on “conflict minerals” as was recently instituted by the United States, or peace-keeping efforts by the United Nations; it must come from the Congolese people demanding responsible government. Eichstaedt does not offer much hope that it will happen soon.

The welter of unfamiliar names of places, organizations and people makes for slow reading (maps and a cast of characters would have helped), but the main stumbling block for many will be the sheer horror and hopelessness of it all.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-310-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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