Having turned his acerbic gaze on the Big Apple (New York Days, New York Nights, 1985), Texas (Honkytonk Gelato, 1985), three European capitals (Vanished Empire, 1990), and Israel (Winner Takes All, 1991), Brook, who's British, now focuses on L.A.—in a travelogue marked by the superciliousness that's marred some of his earlier work. Caroming about the L.A. Basin from frumpy Pasadena to funky Venice, from scruffy Watts to yuppie Westwood, Brook explores venues both familiar (Knott's Berry Farm; Rodeo Drive) and unfamiliar (an employment agency specializing in strange jobs—like ``bad skin models'' for acne-remedy ads). Along the way, he interviews numerous Angelenos, from a self-proclaimed ``star'' of public-access TV to a junior-high-school principal who affects the flashy paraphernalia of success—chunky gold chains, white Mercedes-Benz convertible—in order to inspire students to try harder. Throughout, Brook takes less-than-polite potshots at women (``fifty smiling bimbos''; ``whores, thighs packed into tight shorts like sausage casings''), the elderly (``The average age...seems to be about ninety, and most...drive—their chins resting daintily on the steering wheel...''), and gays. His interest in architecture produces the most worthwhile and reliable pages here: Interspersed throughout are insightful comments on public and private L.A. structures designed by Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Neutra, among others. Plagued by name-dropping, humor tending toward the sophomoric, and arbitrary evaluations: middling both as city-guide and as social commentary.

Pub Date: June 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-09321-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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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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