Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays

Adam Hochschild. Univ. of California, $27.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-520-29724-1
In this inconsistent collection of previously published work, historian Hochschild (Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939) gathers essays concerning various forces of injustice and inhumanity around the world and throughout the ages, in hopes that readers might take solace in the examples of those who fought injustice and sought to transform the world for the better. Most of the book is organized geographically, with sections devoted to Africa, Europe, India, and the U.S., and many of the essays about specific places are stories of Hochschild’s travels, as a Fulbright lecturer, journalist, or political organizer. The works are mostly anecdotal and at times disjointed, with Hochschild relaying his observations of telling details to frame his political insights. For instance, in a visit to South Africa’s Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, the “ultimate authority in interpreting the post-apartheid constitution,” he notes that “the room in which the Court meets is unlike any courtroom I’ve seen anywhere in the world: a bowl-shaped auditorium, which means that the judges of this high court sit below the audience rather than above it.” The technique lends the essays a conversational tone, which can be distracting but is perhaps effective for introducing lessons about a dark time. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 270 pages - 978-0-520-96967-4
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