Hatzfeld is to be commended for helping to preserve crucial eyewitness testimony and for sharing it with what one hopes will...

LIFE LAID BARE

THE SURVIVORS IN RWANDA SPEAK

Arresting firsthand accounts of the 1994 Rwandan genocide from 14 men, women and children who survived the weeks of slaughter.

As he did in Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (2005), journalist Hatzfeld provides informative introductions to each chapter but allows his subjects to speak for themselves. The collection’s devastating power comes from the no-holds-barred narratives, with additional kudos to translator Coverdale for rendering their words in spare, haunting English. Beer helped save his life, declares Rwililiza. The Hutus rewarded themselves with countless drinks after a day of killing, he explains; on each successive morning, they were more hung over and less effective as murderers. Although Rwililiza is a teacher, he somberly asserts that education does not necessarily prevent genocide—rather, it may make killers “more efficient.” Christine Nyiransabimana, who was in fifth grade when the war began, offers the painful perspective of a mixed-race child. Her Tutsi father was cut down with a machete in front of his Hutu wife, and Christine was threatened because of her Tutsi blood. Angélique Mukamanzi, now 25, is perhaps the most memorable informant here, speaking with subtle psychological insight about why some survivors change the details of their experience with each retelling. Mukamanzi discusses a neighbor who initially insisted that her mother died inside the church at N’tarama, but later said that the death occurred while they were hiding in a marsh. “To me, there is no lie,” she says. “Maybe [the daughter] had abandoned her while running through the marsh and felt bad about that.” The details may change, but for the Rwandan survivors, the memories themselves will never disappear.

Hatzfeld is to be commended for helping to preserve crucial eyewitness testimony and for sharing it with what one hopes will be a very large audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59051-273-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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