An interesting firsthand account of the physical and emotional recovery of a town.

BLOWN AWAY

TORNADO IN A SMALL TOWN

McHugh’s (Death Matters, 2009, etc.) fourth book offers a primary historical record of a small town hit by a violent and deadly tornado.

McHugh describes 1940s Shelburn, Ind., as a quintessential Midwestern town: a population of roughly 1,250 living in a large geographical area. His detailed chronicle of Shelburn’s collective response to a horrific natural disaster drops the reader directly into the struggling community. The author gives a voice to each of those who stepped forward to help their neighbors’ battered spirits and properties. McHugh cites a meteorological record of tornado destruction throughout the United States, which contextualizes the severity of the one Shelburn endured. The author, a 19-year-old ambulance driver at the time of the storm, provides a firsthand account of his neighbors’ suffering and tenacity with the lens of one accustomed to personal tragedy. McHugh smartly allows the emotions of the story to develop organically in the voices of those he interviewed. While the book may serve as a resource for Shelburn’s historical record, as well as a guide to preparing for a tornado, it also encapsulates the fortitude of the residents. Many neighboring communities met Shelburn’s need so abundantly the Red Cross no longer accepted food donations just one day after the storm. McHugh reveals these standout facts to provide a reflection of the community’s heart. While rebuilding the town was a dynamic undertaking, Shelburn’s people did the work without questioning one another’s motives or agendas. In the true Midwestern spirit of working together to build and rebuild, McHugh lets his neighbors and friends tell their stories in their own ways. 

An interesting firsthand account of the physical and emotional recovery of a town.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456494100

Page Count: 100

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2012

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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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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