OUT OF CONTROL

GLOBAL TURMOIL ON THE EVE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A brilliant and principled analysis of the perilous state of a fractious world as it approaches another millennium. Brzezinski (The Grand Failure, 1989, etc.), director of the National Security Council during the Carter Administration, offers an unsparing appraisal of the current century and views the next with considerable skepticism, even trepidation. Looking backward, he accords short shrift to Communism, Nazism, and other totalitarian movements that attempted, at staggering cost, to establish coercive utopias. But while yesteryear's metamyths have been thoroughly discredited, the author remains unconvinced that liberal democracy can fill the resultant vacuums. Indeed, he contends, the West's advanced, affluent societies could forfeit their influence if they don't halt a self-indulgent slide into conspicuous consumption and relativist hedonism. Although the cold war's end has left the planet with but one superpower, Brzezinski insists that America must be guided by globally relevant virtues if it is to exercise authentic authority. In light of the geopolitical instability exacerbated by the Soviet Union's collapse, the author says, America's socioeconomic and cultural woes may undermine its capacity to control events, and, unless the country sets its own house in order (e.g., by forsaking permissiveness and reaffirming bedrock moral values), US ascendancy may be short-lived. Brzezinski identifies regional belligerencies in Eurasia, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the continuation of the conflicts that pit South against North, and the risk of a fascist renaissance as obstacles to the creation of a consensus that could make the world a comparatively peaceable kingdom. A masterful, if dour, synthesis. (First serial to World Monitor)

Pub Date: April 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-684-19630-1

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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