Robinson eloquently urges the white world to accord the constitutions and laws of black countries the same sanctity it...

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AN UNBROKEN AGONY

HAITI, FROM REVOLUTION TO THE KIDNAPPING OF A PRESIDENT

A fiery, disorganized and somewhat repetitive exposé of longstanding injustices toward Haiti perpetrated by a long list of colonial powers including France and, most recently, the United States.

On Feb. 29, 2004, an American convoy escorted twice-elected Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince and removed him for good from his country. Did he resign, as the official U.S. version maintains, or was he rather deposed by an American-backed coup d’état? Robinson (The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe Each Other, 2002, etc.) vehemently lays out evidence of a coup. Haiti has long been isolated and resented by the Caribbean’s colonial powers. Thanks to the military genius of former slave Toussaint L’Ouverture, the French colony known as Saint-Domingue staged the only successful slave revolt in the Americas in 1803 and became an independent nation, expelling its brutal French masters and ending Napoleon’s dreams of world empire. The United States, France and other powers (including the Vatican) punished Haiti with embargos and crushing reparations that had devastating consequences for decades to come. Dictators such as the Duvaliers were puppets of American business interests, while former priest Aristide, elected democratically in 1990, enacted social reforms that helped level discrepancies between rich and poor and destroy the status quo. Hence, Robinson asserts, American resentment against Haiti’s intransigence is deeply rooted; Haitians are considered proud and “unmanipulable.” The Bush administration helped destabilize the government by arming Duvalierist rebels led by Guy Philippe, a CIA-trained former police precinct captain, to threaten order and bring down Aristide. Robinson’s Christ-like portrait of Aristide is a bit over-the-top, and his single-note argument is rather erratically presented. It is nonetheless deeply persuasive, as brisk chapters move urgently between past and present.

Robinson eloquently urges the white world to accord the constitutions and laws of black countries the same sanctity it accords its own.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-465-07050-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Basic Civitas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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