Not a pleasant read but a vitally important one.




A veteran German journalist documents the stories of female survivors of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in their own words and in pictures.

In April 2014, Boko Haram exploded in the international consciousness after it kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the small town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. Most of those girls are still missing. But the radical Islamists had been wreaking havoc not only in Nigeria, but in several neighboring countries that share Nigeria’s porous border well before the commando unit took the Chibok girls, and it has continued to do so since. In this powerful, painful, and jarring book, Die Zeit writer Bauer (Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe, 2016) combines his own narrative with the oral testimonies of a number of women who escaped the clutches of Boko Haram after having been kidnapped, usually after violent attacks on their communities. During those attacks, most local men who had not joined the group ended up dead, while women of all ages were taken and usually made to convert and become the wives of the men of Boko Haram. The women featured in this book found their opportunities and escaped, facing harsh local conditions and treacherous paths back to marginal safety. Many only did so after having been impregnated, often as the result of rape, and all have stories of loved ones lost either in the attacks on their villages and towns or during their captivity. All of the contributors display astounding courage. Spyra contributes stark portraits of the women, and Bauer provides vital context to the situation that has not yet found a remedy. His prose is clipped and precise, with no excess ornamentation, an appropriately somber tone to a tragically somber situation.

Not a pleasant read but a vitally important one.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62097-257-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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