Mohan demonstrates an accessible, engaging method of relaying a difficult, violent history.




Putting a human face on the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka.

Bangalore-based journalist Mohan re-creates in scrupulous detail the struggles of three Tamil protagonists whose lives were profoundly altered since the 1980s by the militant separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Discriminatory policies against the Tamil, representing 30 percent of the population, began in the 1950s, accelerated in the 1970s, and culminated with the burning of the Jaffna Tamil library in 1981 and riots in July 1983. Indra is the matriarch whose ancestral ties reveal the degree of complexity among the Tamils: A Hindu whose father was once a soldier in the British army, she married John, a Tamil Christian, whose own ancestors were brought to Ceylon from southern India as laborers for the British tea plantations. Indra, a young mother at the time, was the first to witness the horrible anti-Tamil violence of 1983, which left 3,000 dead and hundreds fleeing the country. Her son, Sarva, who was born in 1980 and earned a diploma in nautical engineering, was abducted in 2008 by the Sri Lankan army and imprisoned for the crime of having been impressed into the Tamil militant group of the Vanni, or the Tamil-controlled interior, when he was younger. Indeed, the LTTE had set up an alternative government in the Vanni, with self-sufficient institutions, though the coercive methods of the LTTE were well-known—e.g., recruiting child soldiers and girls. The third protagonist in the story, Mugil, had been recruited in the Tamil Tigers as a teenager in 1998; retired to become a mother, she nonetheless returned in 2008 to work for the propaganda wing of the group. Throughout the book, the author delivers a narrative as fluid as fiction in the delineation of these scarred lives.

Mohan demonstrates an accessible, engaging method of relaying a difficult, violent history.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1781686003

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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