Lawlor, whose professed credentials include ``many years studying the thought forms of ancient civilizations,'' six years of living in grass huts in South India, and some time spent talking with Australian Aborigines and studying their culture, presents a remarkably comprehensive and fascinating account of the Aboriginal world view and its potential usefulness in imagining future directions for our own faltering culture. An end to our civilization is all too easy to imagine. What we Westerners are forgetting in our panicked apprehension, suggests Lawlor, is that death—of a culture or an individual—is not always such a terrible prospect when the potential for rebirth exists. Acting on the assumption that the Aboriginal culture of Australia, which is among the oldest and least altered of ``primitive'' cultures still surviving, may provide inspiration for a new and healthier cultural growth in our own polluted soil, the author painstakingly explores the Aboriginal approach to such concepts as the creation of humanity, time and space, the power of the earth's magnetic forces, kinship, life cycles, male and female roles, sexuality, death, and mysticism. Comparing the holistic, cyclical world view of the Aborigines with the compartmentalized, open- ended, and increasingly desperate nature of Western civilization, Lawlor points out that ideas that Westerners are now only beginning to rediscover—living in harmony with nature, accepting death as part of the process of life, recognizing the futility of exaggerated individualism—have long been practiced and understood by a civilization the West nearly destroyed, and may yet serve to help all of us ``dream'' of a healthier future. Lawlor's careful, accessible exploration of Aboriginal customs and beliefs, plus a spectacular collection of 20 color plates, 80 b&w photographs (many dating back to the turn of the century), and beautifully detailed line art, are truly worthwhile. And his central argument certainly is au courant—it's the same one used by Daniel Quinn in his Turner Tomorrow Award-winning novel, Ishmael (p. 1308).

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-89281-355-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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