A highly entertaining, if ultimately depressing, saga of greed and good-ol’-boy immorality. (b&w photos)

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BAD BET ON THE BAYOU

THE RISE OF GAMBLING IN LOUISIANA AND THE FALL OF GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS

A journalist picks through an unsavory gumbo of political corruption in the Pelican State.

From 1992 to 1996, Times-Picayune reporter Bridges (The Rise of David Duke, 1994) was assigned to cover the story of legalized gambling in Louisiana—and a sordid story it was, too. There are actually two tales here: the attempt by Louisiana to balance its budget with taxes on gambling, and the Feds’ pursuit of Governor Edwin Edwards (whose investigation, arrest, and trial consume the final fourth of the story). Louisiana was in big trouble in the 1990s: The oil market had collapsed, and the state budget was bust. Edwards—who served four terms as governor and is now in federal prison—was a flamboyant, horny, seductive, and slick politician who loved to gamble. What more natural union than a high-rolling governor with legalized gambling? The Louisiana citizens and legislature barely approved the gambling issues (Bridges describes with devastating clarity the voting-machine hanky-panky in the legislature), but then the real fun began as Edwards’s friends and associates and wannabes of every stripe and stink scrambled to acquire the few riverboat licenses (and lone land-casino license) the state would grant. Swooping into Louisiana came planeloads of guys with big bucks and bad taste. The vast amounts of money involved (hundreds of millions—even billions of dollars) tainted just about everyone who came near the licensing process, including Edwards and his son (both of whom were among those convicted on federal charges). Bridges writes with command and ease about this byzantine and squalid enterprise and only occasionally reveals his disdain for the principals. Oddly, he seems annoyed that Edwards’s glamorous wife, Candy, is much younger than her husband (he repeatedly mentions the age disparity).

A highly entertaining, if ultimately depressing, saga of greed and good-ol’-boy immorality. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: May 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-10830-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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