SEEING VIETNAM

ENCOUNTERS OF THE ROAD AND HEART

Equal amounts of cram-course pedagogy and '60s reminiscences pepper this Vietnam travelogue by feminist journalist and novelist Brownmiller (Waverly Place, 1989, etc.). In 1992, just after the removal of US travel restrictions to Vietnam, Brownmiller went there on assignment for Travel & Leisure as a simple first-time tourist; she also went to encounter and make her peace with a country she knew only from its wartime images on television, which she helped to define while working for ABC news. From Hanoi to Saigon—with stops in Danang, Hue, and Quang Tri- -Vietnam's war scars, Soviet-style economic barrenness, and vibrant Indo-Chinese heritage commingle. Her discovery of traditional culture is the most successful aspect of the journey, whether describing Vietnamese cuisine, the water puppets of Saigon, or the antique pottery of Hoi An. Her trips to the obligatory battlefields and war memorials provoke in her culture shock and ultimately incomprehension. Comparing an armaments museum in Hanoi's Lenin Park to a recent antiwar exhibition at New York City's Museum of Modern Art, she pronounces the former more powerful art but is surprised by her guide's bitterness at the relics of a costly war machine in a country excluded from its neighbors' modernized prosperity. International businesspeople in restored French hotels, thriving hawkers of shoddy goods, and ecotourists visiting a bird sanctuary near the Cambodian border are all hopeful signs of emergence from the postwar limbo. Brownmiller's attempts to understand the Vietnamese experience of the war and current sentiments, however, are muddled by her own self-absorbed guilty flashbacks. In one egregious instance, as she leaves the Khe Sanh battlefield, she starts singing the sardonic ``Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag'' of Woodstock in front of her guides, who in turn strike up with a patriotic Vietnamese anthem. Although passable as postcard travel writing, Seeing Vietnam is more hopeful traveling than arrival at an understanding of a country's painful history and problematic future. ($25,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 18, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-019049-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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