THE OPEN SORE OF A CONTINENT

A PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF THE NIGERIAN CRISIS

Nobelist Soyinka (Art, Dialogue, and Outrage, 1994; Ake, 1982; etc.) takes on the despotic regime of his native Nigeria in this series of scathing jeremiads. From its first days of nationhood, Nigeria has been plagued by an almost endless succession of violence, spectacular corruption (over $12 billion in oil revenues from the Gulf War just disappeared), and ethnic rivalries. The latest round of troubles began in June 1993, when national elections were voided by a repressive military coup. Soyinka himself went into exile, where he has served as a strong and constant protesting voice (even if, as he admits, he failed to vote in the elections). But the world took little note until the recent trumped up trial and hasty execution of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight other activists. But despite forceful protests and threats by other countries, the tacit fact is that Africa has been left to the Africans. Any solutions will have to be home-grown. So as Soyinka traces the roots of what went wrong in 1993, he also meditates on the meaning of nationalism and nationhood. This is a vital issue for a country as divided as Nigeria, its arbitrary borders enclosing innumerable tribes as well as three major religions. Soyinka's vague, half-hearted solution is what he calls an ethical ``remapping.'' This is to be accomplished by a series of regional conferences in troubled parts of the globe like Nigeria. As Soyinka notes: ``The history of many nations is so flawed that it screams constantly for redress.'' But as Canada has shown, even reasoned, ethical attempts at redress have proven difficult, although at least not fratricidal. Unfortunately, Soyinka's righteous, angry words are unevenly delivered. Often awkward, even strained, his prose has a rushed journalistic feel to it, certainly a far cry from the polish he displays as a playwright and memoirist.

Pub Date: July 25, 1996

ISBN: 0-19-510557-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more