In this entertaining book, Seligman ably demystifies the stereotypes in an age rife with discrimination and unchecked police...

TONG WARS

THE UNTOLD STORY OF VICE, MONEY, AND MURDER IN NEW YORK'S CHINATOWN

A new history of turf wars between rival New York City Chinatown brotherhoods from the turn of the century to the Depression reveals the shabby justice and bigotry practiced on immigrants by American authorities.

A journalist and “China hand” proficient in the languages, Seligman has been able to interpret historic archives—e.g., New York City newspapers, indexing of census records—regarding Chinatown as previous historians have not. As a result, his work is richly textured and avoids black-and-white judgments regarding the tongs, or secret brotherhoods, which served a vital function in helping advocate for and protect the fragile community of Chinese immigrants in the wake of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The author examines the beginning migrants mostly from California in the 1870s, such as the early Hong Kong–born merchant and community leader Wo Kee, who first staked out a general store and boardinghouse at 34 Mott St., just south of Canal in an Irish neighborhood of cheap rents. According to Seligman, the Chinese gravitated toward mutual aid societies as a way to re-create the hierarchical structures they knew back in the old country, and they also needed conduits to deal with the corrupt Tammany Hall bosses and police. The new organization, Loon Yee Tong, was established by spokesman Tom Lee in 1880 and gradually morphed into the On Leong Tong, which took control of the vice dens, including lucrative enterprises of gambling, prostitution, and opium. Meanwhile, another brotherhood, the Hip Sing Tong, originally from San Francisco, was muscling its way into the Chinatown turf, extorting businesses. The author dutifully follows the tit-for-tat wars between the two tongs over the next three decades, involving such illustrious kingpins as Charlie Boston and Mock Duck, and yet the notorious dens of inequity in Chinatown comprised a small percentage of the overall violence prevalent in the rest of the city.

In this entertaining book, Seligman ably demystifies the stereotypes in an age rife with discrimination and unchecked police abuse.

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-56227-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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