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THE VORTEX

A TRUE STORY OF HISTORY'S DEADLIEST STORM, AN UNSPEAKABLE WAR, AND LIBERATION

A powerful, timely exploration of an environmental and political tragedy.

How unscrupulous politicians exploited the effects of a catastrophic cyclone to commit genocide and nearly trigger a nuclear war.

Carney is an investigative journalist and anthropologist who spent six years reporting from South Asia for Wired, Mother Jones, and other publications, and Miklian is a senior researcher at the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo. The authors begin by documenting the 1970 Bhola cyclone, a staggeringly destructive storm that killed roughly 500,000 people in the densely populated coastal area of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Then the authors turn to the complex aftermath, anatomizing the ruthless opportunism of West Pakistani politicians who sought to consolidate their power by exterminating ethnic rivals; the self-serving machinations of American and Soviet leaders whose interventions culminated in a nuclear standoff; the desperate efforts of Bengali resistance fighters to secure independence in the face of brutal oppression; and the often heroic attempts of aid workers to mitigate the catastrophic human toll. The authors effectively translate their exhaustive research into a compelling narrative, cleverly alternating chapters among the perspectives of a diverse range of protagonists, from Mohammed Hai, a humble young man who became a revolutionary, to international power brokers such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. This is a riveting, page-turning story of human devastation, political corruption, and individual bravery as well as a cautionary tale with universal relevance. “This book is about climate change,” they argue convincingly, showing how rising global temperatures will continue to boost both the frequency and intensity of cyclones in many coastal areas, prompting extreme political volatility and large-scale human suffering. To those who may feel complacent about what happened a half-century ago in a relatively obscure part of the world, Carney and Miklian deliver a stark warning: “Our global climate future means not just flooded beach houses in twenty years and more expensive groceries next decade but an increasing likelihood of selective genocide and even global international war.”

A powerful, timely exploration of an environmental and political tragedy.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-298541-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THUNDERSTRUCK

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history...

A murder that transfixed the world and the invention that made possible the chase for its perpetrator combine in this fitfully thrilling real-life mystery.

Using the same formula that propelled Devil in the White City (2003), Larson pairs the story of a groundbreaking advance with a pulpy murder drama to limn the sociological particulars of its pre-WWI setting. While White City featured the Chicago World’s Fair and America’s first serial killer, this combines the fascinating case of Dr. Hawley Crippen with the much less gripping tale of Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of radio. (Larson draws out the twin narratives for a long while before showing how they intersect.) Undeniably brilliant, Marconi came to fame at a young age, during a time when scientific discoveries held mass appeal and were demonstrated before awed crowds with circus-like theatricality. Marconi’s radio sets, with their accompanying explosions of light and noise, were tailor-made for such showcases. By the early-20th century, however, the Italian was fighting with rival wireless companies to maintain his competitive edge. The event that would bring his invention back into the limelight was the first great crime story of the century. A mild-mannered doctor from Michigan who had married a tempestuously demanding actress and moved to London, Crippen became the eye of a media storm in 1910 when, after his wife’s “disappearance” (he had buried her body in the basement), he set off with a younger woman on an ocean-liner bound for America. The ship’s captain, who soon discerned the couple’s identity, updated Scotland Yard (and the world) on the ship’s progress—by wireless. The chase that ends this story makes up for some tedious early stretches regarding Marconi’s business struggles.

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history lesson.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 1-4000-8066-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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