A refreshing alternative to the dismal views of Africa’s prospects that pervade the press.



Despite HIV/AIDS, oppressive governments, genocide and poverty, the winds of hope are blowing across much of Africa, declares one of the most celebrated names in American racial history.

The first black woman to graduate from the University of Georgia, Hunter-Gault (In My Place, 1992) now lives in South Africa and travels around the continent as a correspondent for NPR. She has seen much to cheer her. The three segments of this new work are revisions of three lectures she gave in 2003 at Harvard, where she was a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research. The author contends that people in the West have been getting only “old” news from Africa about what she calls the Four D’s: death, disease, disaster and despair. No Pollyanna, Hunter-Gault is quick to acknowledge that these conditions remain grave. She discusses the genocide in Darfur, the enormity of the AIDS pandemic, unemployment and poverty, the repression and corruption that still characterize business-as-usual in too many African nations. But she also sees more and more of what she calls “new news”: political and charitable organizations, determined and fearless journalists, hopeful and courageous people, many of whom, despite having little formal training and technological expertise, are devoted to the causes of democracy and human rights on the continent. Much of the author’s optimism is based on opinions formed during her travels and interviews with Africans at every economic and political level. But she is sanguine, as well, because of enlightened political movements and organizations such as the New Partnership for African Development and the Pan-African Parliament. She believes that the West can best help African states by forgiving debts, many of which were incurred when tyrants misappropriated Western loans, and she urges Western media to focus more on African progress and less on the Four D’s.

A refreshing alternative to the dismal views of Africa’s prospects that pervade the press.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-19-517747-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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...


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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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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