PRISONERS WITHOUT TRIAL

JAPANESE AMERICANS IN WORLD WAR II

More proof that good things can come in small packages, this volume—along with two others—kicks off the publisher's ``Critical Issues'' series (consulting editor: Eric Foner), in which experts tackle historical issues whose consequences reverberate today. Not only do the authors of the first three volumes offer cogent overviews of their respective issues, but each is willing to climb out on a critical limb. Daniels (Concentration Camp USA, 1972), for instance, writing about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WW II, states that ``this book has tried to explain how and why the outrage happened. That is the role of the historian and his book, which is to analyze the past. But this historian feels that analyzing the past is not always enough''—and so he takes on the question of ``could it happen again?'' and concludes that there's ``an American propensity to react against `foreigners' in the United States during times of external crisis, especially when those `foreigners' have dark skins,'' and that Japanese-Americans, at least, ``would argue that what has happened before can surely happen again.'' Similarly, Kirkpatrick Sale—in The Green Revolution (ISBN: 0-8090-5218-0; paper: 0-8090-1551-X)—summarizes the modern history of American environmentalism (which he sees as dating from the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring) and indicts ``a chemical industry that has subsequently produced some 30,000 chemicals of varying degrees of toxicity''), while Anthony F.C. Wallace—in The Long, Bitter Trail (ISBN: 0-8090-6631-9; paper: 0-8090-1552-8)—studies the legacy of Andrew Jackson's cruel Indian policies and declares that ``two hundred years of national indecision about how the United States should deal with its Native Americans have not come to an end.'' A promising beginning, then, to what looks like a very fine series with a cutting edge; future volumes will include Marvin Frankel on Church & State, Michael Hunt on How We Became Involved in Vietnam, and Betty Wood on Origins of Slavery in the United States.

Pub Date: July 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-8090-7897-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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