An absorbing account of a physically and spiritually challenging journey.

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WALKING WITH GHOSTS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

CROSSING THE KOKODA TRAIL IN THE LAST WILD PLACE ON EARTH

A wild and forbidding terrain reveals its dramatic history.

Vancouver-based travel writer Antonson (Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark: An Odyssey to Mount Ararat and Beyond, 2016, etc.) vividly recounts a two-week, 60-mile journey on the formidable Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, a rugged terrain marked by jungle, bogs, gullies, cliffs, malarial mosquitoes, rigorous ascents, and steep, slippery descents. After accepting a neighbor’s invitation to go on the trek, the author discovered some unsettling rumors about the region: Crime was rampant, gangs marauded, and hostile native tribes were known to attack. Port Moresby, where the walk would start, had been ranked “among the world’s most unlivable cities.” But the chance to see breathtaking vistas, “awe-inspiring foliage,” and sites known only to Papuans and trekkers lured him. “If the demands of the trek didn’t kill us (as they had others in recent years),” writes the author, “we’d have the trip of a lifetime.” In preparation for the arduous demands of the hike, he and his neighbor practiced power-walking on sand and climbing steep hills in the Australian rainforest; he made sure all his vaccinations were up to date; and, to sate his curiosity, read up on Papua’s history. Papua, the world’s second-largest island, had been a critical battleground during World War II, “the lynchpin” that decisively foiled Japan’s plan to position itself to attack Australia. Although many battlefields change over time, the Kokoda Trail “was almost identical now to then” and evoked a clear sense of its violent past. Antonson and his party of trekkers and porters found unexploded bombs, rusted Japanese hand grenades, chipped helmets, and shallow foxholes. With the ghosts of Japanese, American, Papuan, and Australian soldiers always hovering, the author had a palpable sense of “the dismay their earthly beings must have felt in all of this.” As intensely as he responded to the natural surroundings, he also felt a growing disgust with “war’s inherent vulgarities.”

An absorbing account of a physically and spiritually challenging journey.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0566-1

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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