Pleasant, peripatetic musings revealing a great deal about the Chinese character.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

AGE OF AMBITION

CHASING FORTUNE, TRUTH, AND FAITH IN THE NEW CHINA

New Yorker staff writer and former China correspondent Osnos offers nimble, clever observations of a country squeezed between aspiration and authoritarianism.

From 2005 to 2013, the author lived with his wife in China. In his debut book, he meanders among stories he pursued concerning Chinese of all strata striving to make a living in, and make sense of, a country in the throes of staggering transformation. Osnos groups his human-interest profiles under the themes of fortune, truth and faith, and he explores how new economic opportunities have challenged traditional ways and opened up Chinese society to unheard-of liberties and “pathways to self-creation”—emotionally, intellectually and otherwise. Osnos befriended many of the new strivers—e.g., idealist soldier Lin Yifu, who defected the “wrong way,” from Taiwan to China, in 1979, determined to prosper with the new China; and Gong Hainan, a restless villager who traveled to the big city in the mid-1990s to study and ended up starting a hugely influential dating service. The “age of ambition” required new skills, like learning English (Osnos recounts hilarious adventures in Li Yang’s popular “Crazy English” class), getting one’s child into an Ivy League school and learning how to travel in the West—i.e., by bus tour, which took the author and his Chinese group to visit such sites as Karl Marx’s birthplace. In the part entitled “Truth,” Osnos gets at the nitty-gritty underneath China’s authoritative and censorious front, such as the rather miraculous vitality of Hu Shuli’s international finance magazine Caijing, the work of artist and architect Ai Weiwei and the human rights manifesto Charter ’08, written by Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Osnos finds that the Chinese are just as ingenious at finding ways to circumvent authoritative repression as they are at filling the spiritual vacuum left by the cult of Mao.

Pleasant, peripatetic musings revealing a great deal about the Chinese character.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-28074-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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?

No Comments Yet
more