Lacks a cohesive structure, but entertaining and informative nonetheless.




The successes and failures of contemporary Indian society, supplemented by “An A to Z of Being Indian.”

Fans of Tharoor’s prior coverage of Indian history and culture, India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond (2005), will be pleased to discover this addition, a collection of the author’s previously published writing on modern Indian society. Tharoor begins by discussing the complex religious landscape of India—where Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and many other religious groups coexist—and how this impacts the identity of the country. In particular, he focuses on his own religion, Hinduism, examining the differing ways Hindus react to the disparate religious practices at work in present-day India. While the author provides a carefully considered examination of what it means to be Indian, he is also a pop-culture junkie, and subsequent passages offer a mixture of humorous anecdotes from the author’s life and general musings on India’s adaptation to life in the 21st century. Like many Indians, Tharoor is a passionate cricket fan, and he presents a particularly amusing story on the perils of watching the sport in New York City, which illustrates how satellite television has proved to be a mercurial force for Indians stranded in non-cricket loving countries. He also tries to determine what happened to the sari, offers a damning verdict on an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, discusses the effect and influence of the call center on Indian society and examines India’s cell-phone usage, among many other topics. Each article is well-written, and Tharoor is a charming and knowledgeable guide. But the structure of the book makes for puzzling reading, as many similarly themed articles are scattered rather than grouped together.

Lacks a cohesive structure, but entertaining and informative nonetheless.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-55970-861-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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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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