An impressive history of a year’s political tensions, necessarily limited in focus but still sweeping and in-depth.

1956

THE WORLD IN REVOLT

A year of dramatic changes around the world.

Taking an ambitious, panoramic view of a single year, Hall (American History/Univ. of Leeds; Rethinking the American Anti-War Movement, 2011, etc.) examines major events in postwar Europe, America, Africa, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East. Although the choice of 1956 is necessarily arbitrary, the author makes a strong case for its significance in capturing “the contradictions of the decade” that played out as liberation movements in some areas and repression in others. In Poland and Hungary, populations rose up against communist oppression; in the U.S., racial violence erupted over efforts to desegregate buses and integrate the University of Alabama. Escorted by police officers and a college dean, the first black student was pelted with “rocks, eggs, mud balls and curses,” leaving her “overcome with terror.” Also during this time, major colonial powers faced the ends of their empires: France tried to suppress uprisings in Algeria, while Britain cracked down on Cyprus but granted independence to Ghana. Flexing their muscles, France and Britain signed an agreement with Israel to launch a war to overthrow Egyptian president Gamel Abdal Nasser, undermining Eisenhower’s efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Suez Canal crisis. A surprising speech by Nikita Khrushchev, denouncing Stalin, softened the rhetoric of the Cold War. Hall’s focus is almost exclusively political: he devotes only one chapter to cultural eruptions such as rock ’n’ roll, which was condemned as “cannibalistic and tribalistic” and stoked public fears about “errant sexual behavior.” Elvis Presley appeared on TV, evoking “a storm” of criticism; the city of Santa Cruz banned rock ’n’ roll at public gatherings. Hall sees the music as “one manifestation of a wider cultural and generational revolt” that included poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and playwright John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. Contemporary newspaper reports give the author’s month-by-month narrative a vivid, you-are-there quality.

An impressive history of a year’s political tensions, necessarily limited in focus but still sweeping and in-depth.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-205-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS

The debut book from “one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard.”

In addition to delivering memorable portraits of undocumented immigrants residing precariously on Staten Island and in Miami, Cleveland, Flint, and New Haven, Cornejo Villavicencio, now enrolled in the American Studies doctorate program at Yale, shares her own Ecuadorian family story (she came to the U.S. at age 5) and her anger at the exploitation of hardworking immigrants in the U.S. Because the author fully comprehends the perils of undocumented immigrants speaking to journalist, she wisely built trust slowly with her subjects. Her own undocumented status helped the cause, as did her Spanish fluency. Still, she protects those who talked to her by changing their names and other personal information. Consequently, readers must trust implicitly that the author doesn’t invent or embellish. But as she notes, “this book is not a traditional nonfiction book….I took notes by hand during interviews and after the book was finished, I destroyed those notes.” Recounting her travels to the sites where undocumented women, men, and children struggle to live above the poverty line, she reports her findings in compelling, often heart-wrenching vignettes. Cornejo Villavicencio clearly shows how employers often cheat day laborers out of hard-earned wages, and policymakers and law enforcement agents exist primarily to harm rather than assist immigrants who look and speak differently. Often, cruelty arrives not only in economic terms, but also via verbal slurs and even violence. Throughout the narrative, the author explores her own psychological struggles, including her relationships with her parents, who are considered “illegal” in the nation where they have worked hard and tried to become model residents. In some of the most deeply revealing passages, Cornejo Villavicencio chronicles her struggles reconciling her desire to help undocumented children with the knowledge that she does not want "kids of my own." Ultimately, the author’s candor about herself removes worries about the credibility of her stories.

A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59268-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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