A well-told, panoramic international true-crime adventure.



Expanding on his intriguing New Yorker article, Keefe (Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping, 2005) tells the story of a multimillion-dollar smuggling ring that ferried illegal immigrants from China to New York City in the 1980s and early ’90s.

The ringleader, or “snakehead,” was a legal immigrant named Cheng Chui Ping, known to everyone in her Chinatown neighborhood as “Sister Ping.” Ping ran her operation, one of the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the world, from a storefront on Chinatown’s Hester Street beginning in 1982. During the next decade, she raked in millions of dollars from poor Chinese desperate to get to America; each paid thousands of dollars to be smuggled in. Ping collaborated with the violent Chinatown gang Fuk Ching, an arrangement that would eventually lead to her downfall. On a June night in 1993, two Fuk Ching members were the victims of a revenge killing by a rival gang—the same day they were supposed to offload a ship of Chinese “customers.” With no one to meet it, the Golden Venture ran aground in Queens; ten people were killed, and many more were injured and arrested by police. In the wake of the tragedy, authorities tracked Ping, but it took years before she was finally captured in Hong Kong in 2000. Keefe ably navigates this extremely complex story, interviewing people at all levels, including law enforcement officials and—via written questions and answers—the imprisoned Sister Ping. Most effective are the author’s interviews with the illegal Chinese immigrants, who explain their willingness to pay a fortune—and risk their lives on a dangerous journey—just for the chance to reach America.

A well-told, panoramic international true-crime adventure.

Pub Date: July 21, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-52130-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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