AN EMBARRASSMENT OF TYRANNIES

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

A powerfully hard-hitting collection of short essays. Contributor and longtime associate Webb and current production editor Bell offer an edited volume culled from the pages of the British periodical Index on Censorship. Founded to challenge political censorship, the original goal of Index was to provide “the noise of publicity outside every detention centre and concentration camp.” Strangling words by denying them an audience effectively kills an author, and Index is a writer’s response to political tyranny, an effort to keep authors from disappearing “into total obscurity and loneliness” so that they “and the names of their works, would remain among the names of the living.” Twenty-five years ago the repressive regimes of the Soviets and their allies were the obvious targets, but throughout its tenure Index has resisted identification with a particular ideology. Equal opportunity gadflies, its contributors have exposed a wide range of threats to freedom throughout the world and have criticized censorship whether a function of political, religious, or social concerns. Familiar names include Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Rushdie, but the most powerful efforts are not necessarily from the most famous writers: consider the letter from George Mangakis in his Greek prison cell, Ivan Kraus’s satire addressed to Ceausescu, the response of Nigerian Wole Soyinka to Khomeini’s indictment of Rushdie, or Dror Green’s story from inside the Israeli-occupied territories. Essays by Arthur Miller, Judy Blume, and Noam Chomsky cast spotlights on American forms of censorship, and even England is held up for scrutiny by Michael Tippett, John Mortimer, and others. Throughout this volume a unique characteristic of the best political writing is on display: the message is disturbing but simultaneously uplifting, for the simple fact that someone could write about these experiences, however horrible, or make these arguments, however appallingly necessary, indicates there is hope for the achievement of human freedom and dignity in the world.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1998

ISBN: 0-8076-1441-6

Page Count: 347

Publisher: Braziller

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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