Hong Kong resident Winchester—a Manchester Guardian correspondent whose nonfiction Their Noble Lordships (1982) and Pacific Rising (1991) dished up the House of Lords and the Pacific Rim respectively—treats the breakup of China as future historical fiction. Odd, but it works—and quite well. Presumably because Americans are too busy fearing Japan to have time to worry about China, the publisher is billing Winchester's first novel as being about ``How Japan Starts World War III.'' It's not. It's a thoroughly readable and well-studied scenario for the collapse of China-as-we-know-it following Britain's 1997 handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic. The disintegration begins with the Peking gerontocracy reneging on their promise to install a native governor in the former crown colony, sending instead a Maoist hard-liner from the puritanical north. The move backfires, thanks to advance notice of the treachery by government dissidents. Meanwhile, a Reuters correspondent—the channel from the progressive wing of the Peking foreign ministry to the departing Brits—makes it possible to prepare a counter strategy, and an ad hoc alliance of the Hong Kong Triads (organized criminals) and Western interests immediately begins to subvert the new rule. The fatal troubles for the Maoists begin in nearby Canton and its surrounding province, where years of capitalist ventures have created an economic boom and a hearty distaste for heavy-handed rule by dour northerners. The shooting of a dissident student ignites the smoldering southern resentment, and civil war erupts. As cities and provinces fall to the new Republican army, long-standing fear and loathing of the communists motivate surrounding countries to begin their own attacks on the panicked Maoists. North Korea falls, and the Japanese begin to look on China as they did in the 1930's, an attitude that does at last lead to direct confrontation with the Americans. Something new to worry about. Absorbing and always, thanks to Winchester's intelligence and firsthand knowledge, quite believable.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-136-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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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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