Will deepen general readers’ knowledge of Tibet, its religion and its engaging leader.

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THE STORY OF TIBET

CONVERSATIONS WITH THE DALAI LAMA

An initially rickety narrative about the exiled Dalai Lama’s homeland recovers to stand solidly in favor of Tibet’s independence from China.

Crime-novelist Laird (Black Dog, 2004, etc.) is also a former Asiaweek correspondent who has written about the CIA’s Cold War meddling in the region (Into Tibet, 2001). Here, he moves directly to the heart of geopolitical matters in a surprisingly intimate “history” of Tibet as revealed in conversation with its outcast leader, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Composed over three years from more than 60 hours of interviews with His Holiness, the text makes it clear that neither Laird nor his esteemed collaborator is a historian. “This is not just a book about history,” the author declares at one point, “but about how you learned it.” Yet what emerges from their give-and-take is a thoughtful dialogue (call it a philosophical dialectic) about Tibet’s past not simply as a sequence of events, but as seen through the perspectives of myth, spirituality, morality, human frailty and fate. The intermixture of historical research with dialogue and the writer’s own descriptions of working on the project is at first distracting. But as the unique nature of Tibet’s identity as “an inward-looking religious state” emerges, it becomes painfully clear how the nation came to be overrun by the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s, eventually forcing the Dalai Lama to flee and set up a government-in-exile in northern India. The book fares best when, as in its later chapters, it stays close to the present and to Tenzin Gyatso. His Holiness remains committed to dialogue and nonviolence in resolving Tibet’s longstanding disagreements with China, and his humor and humility in the face of adversity are remarkable for a figure representing a nation and people so clearly wronged.

Will deepen general readers’ knowledge of Tibet, its religion and its engaging leader.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8021-1827-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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