I am pleased to announce that my book: “The Education and Deconstruction of Mr. Bloomberg, How the Mayor’s Education and Real Estate Development Policies Affected New Yorkers 2002-2009 Inclusive” is available through the following online channels: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg http://booksamillion.com/search?id=5606815363948&query=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&where=book_title&search.x=48&search.y=14 https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?keyword=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&mtype=B&hs.x=26&hs.y=13 http://www.fishpond.co.nz/c/Books/q/the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg?rid=1694205135 http://www.thenile.com.au/books/Sally-A-Friedman/The-Education-and-Deconstruction-of-Mr-Bloomberg/9781450099035/ http://www.shopireland.ie/books/search/the%20education%20and%20deconstruction%20of%20mr%20bloomberg/ http://www.wantitall.co.za/Books/THE-EDUCATION-AND-DECONSTRUCTION-OF-MR-BLOOMBERG__1450099033 http://www.ebooknetworking.net/books_detail-1450099033.html http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&search=Find+book http://www.uread.com/book/education-deconstruction-mr-bloomberg-sally/9781450099035 https://play.google.com/store/search?q=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr.+bloomberg http://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?keywords=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&productType=917504 http://www.betterworldbooks.com/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-H0.aspx?SearchTerm=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg http://www.northtownbooks.com/search/apachesolr_search/the%20education%20and%20deconstruction%20of%20mr%20bloomberg http://www.tatteredcover.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.textbookx.com/book/The-Education-and-Deconstruction-of-Mr-Bloomberg/9781450099028/ http://www.commongoodbooks.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.chegg.com/textbooks/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-1st-edition-9781450099028-1450099025 http://www.bol.com/nl/p/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg/1001004011058757/ http://www.regulatorbookshop.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.wildrumpusbooks.com/search/site/Sally%20a%20friedman http://www.kinokuniya.co.jp/f/dsg-02-9781450099035 http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-sally-a-friedman/p/9781450099028I am pleased to announce that my book: “The Education and Deconstruction of Mr. Bloomberg, How the Mayor’s Education and Real Estate Development Policies Affected New Yorkers 2002-2009 Inclusive” is available through the following online channels: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg http://booksamillion.com/search?id=5606815363948&query=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&where=book_title&search.x=48&search.y=14 https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?keyword=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&mtype=B&hs.x=26&hs.y=13 http://www.fishpond.co.nz/c/Books/q/the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg?rid=1694205135 http://www.thenile.com.au/books/Sally-A-Friedman/The-Education-and-Deconstruction-of-Mr-Bloomberg/9781450099035/ http://www.shopireland.ie/books/search/the%20education%20and%20deconstruction%20of%20mr%20bloomberg/ http://www.wantitall.co.za/Books/THE-EDUCATION-AND-DECONSTRUCTION-OF-MR-BLOOMBERG__1450099033 http://www.ebooknetworking.net/books_detail-1450099033.html http://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&search=Find+book http://www.uread.com/book/education-deconstruction-mr-bloomberg-sally/9781450099035 https://play.google.com/store/search?q=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr.+bloomberg http://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?keywords=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg&productType=917504 http://www.betterworldbooks.com/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-H0.aspx?SearchTerm=the+education+and+deconstruction+of+mr+bloomberg http://www.northtownbooks.com/search/apachesolr_search/the%20education%20and%20deconstruction%20of%20mr%20bloomberg http://www.tatteredcover.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.textbookx.com/book/The-Education-and-Deconstruction-of-Mr-Bloomberg/9781450099028/ http://www.commongoodbooks.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.chegg.com/textbooks/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-1st-edition-9781450099028-1450099025 http://www.bol.com/nl/p/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg/1001004011058757/ http://www.regulatorbookshop.com/book/9781450099028 http://www.wildrumpusbooks.com/search/site/Sally%20a%20friedman http://www.kinokuniya.co.jp/f/dsg-02-9781450099035 http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/the-education-and-deconstruction-of-mr-bloomberg-sally-a-friedman/p/9781450099028
The Bonus Book of the Week is “Unlimited Partners, Our American Story” by Bob and Elizabeth Dole, published in 1996.
Born in 1923 in Russell, Kansas, Bob Dole was the second oldest of four children. His small agricultural hometown was plagued by the usual disasters: prairie fires, droughts, tornadoes, grasshoppers, blizzards and dust storms, in addition to politics. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, in November 1923, oil was discovered there. Bob’s father ran a creamery. The family went fishing and hunting.
Bob started attending the University of Kansas thinking he wanted to become a doctor. “By mixing me with all sorts of people, living in a frat house was good preparation for what lay ahead.” Fate threw him for a loop, as he suffered a severe spinal cord injury while serving in WWII. His strong psychological constitution saw him recover sufficient physical ability to earn a law degree, and become a Republican.
In 1960, while running for Congress, Bob distributed free pineapple juice to get name recognition, even though his family had nothing to do with the produce company.
Elizabeth became Bob’s second wife. They had no children together. She was born in 1937 in Salisbury, North Carolina. There were only 24 women out of 550 students in her Harvard Law School class of 1965. One of her classmates criticized her for displacing a white male.
Bob and Elizabeth both served in various leadership positions in the American government through the years. In 1981, Bob helped pass the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which gave Americans a 25% personal income tax cut over the course of three years. The following year however, to mitigate the financial hangover of that, Congress passed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. Its accounting tricks allegedly reduced the national debt by almost $100 billion through closing the loopholes of the previous bill, plus raising taxes a bit and cutting spending.
Read the book to learn of: Elizabeth’s post-government career; Bob’s high praise for President Ronald Reagan, and harsh criticisms of President Bill Clinton; his proposals for tax reform, and vast generalizations of his views on a host of other political issues. After all, Bob was running for president when the book was published.
The Book of the Week is “Janet & Jackie” by Jan Pottker, published in 2001. This is a double biography– of Janet Lee Auchincloss and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Born in 1908, Janet Lee grew up in a rich family. Her obsession with equestrianism in her youth and young adulthood saw her through the stressful times of her life. She won many ribbons.
“For an Irish American woman in the late 1920’s, marriage was the only way to move out of an unhappy household.” She wed for the first time when she was twenty. The groom, Jack Bouvier, a drinker and womanizer, was 36. Her daughter, Jacqueline (Jackie) was born the following summer. The pattern of an unhappy household was repeated until the divorce between Janet and Jack was finalized when Jackie was eleven years old. Jackie, too, took up equestrianism. Jack indulged Jackie’s every whim.
Marriage number two was consummated in 1942. There were only about ten years’ difference in age between Janet and Hugh Auchincloss. Janet kept in touch with her former in-laws and stepchildren, and parented them, even though the Bouviers’ social status was a notch below that of the next man she married. For a while, they were snowbirds between their mansions in Washington, D.C. and Newport, RI.
Janet led Jackie to believe that her highest desire should be to have a man love her. Jackie got the message and wed John F. Kennedy. However, although Jackie’s first husband was a womanizer– his family’s politics, newness of riches and internal loyalty were opposite to her family’s.
Joe Kennedy, the patriarch, treated the wedding as just another political campaign– a well-publicized extravaganza to showcase his son. But he shelled out the money for it. They compromised on the religious issues (as Jackie was Episcopalian, sort of): the ceremony was officiated by an archbishop in the presence of a monsignor and four priests.
As is well known, in 1963, Jackie’s Jack was shot in Dallas, where he died. Fast forward to 1968. Jackie was ready to wed again, to the 62-year old Aristotle Onassis. Her psychological need for a man was evident; for, she sacrificed a sizeable widow’s pension and Secret Service protection in the process.
Read the book to learn a wealth of information, and the information of wealth as the behavior patterns of the daughter’s life, intertwined with her mother’s, became, well, repetitive.
The Book of the Week is “The Deeds of My Fathers” by Paul David Pope, published in 2010. In this tome, the author discussed the lives of his father and grandfather. Annoyingly, lines of dialogue were always accompanied by the word, “said.”
In spring 1906, at fifteen years old, the author’s great grandfather, Generoso Papa, traveled from his birthplace in Italy to New York City. His brother-in-law was already living in America. Papa got a job doing hard, manual labor in the construction trades. His dogged diligence and playing well with vendors, contractors, engineers, building inspectors and city managers led to success. Too, contacts with the Mafia helped maximize profits and crush the competition. By the mid-1920’s, he owned one of the largest construction-industry suppliers in the city. However, workaholic that he was, he never saw his wife and two sons. In January 1927, he had a third son– the author’s father.
In 1928, the author’s grandfather purchased Il Progresso, the largest Italian newspaper in the city. In it, he praised Mussolini, raised money for him, and printed Fascist propaganda. In the ensuing years, he became friends with politicians, including New York City mayors Jimmy Walker and Fiorello LaGuardia, and presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Roy Cohn helped him purchase a radio station.
In the early 1950’s, the author’s father, who called himself Gene Pope, had a falling out with his mother and older brothers. He was crowded out of the family businesses. In 1952, he struck out on his own and acquired what became the National Enquirer with seed money from a Mafia don. He changed its editorial bent. It became like today’s media. Tabloidy.
This was Pope’s philosophy on his publication’s contents: “Crime was the most important ingredient, followed by scandals, disasters and personalities; the more famous people were, the more they were laid low and humiliated.” Sounds like the 2018 midterm-elections attack-ads in America (!) It seems the candidates want more hate.
Some candidates claim not to know about the attack ads against their opponents. However, a man is known by the company he keeps, and the candidates keep company with the producers of the ads. It would be different if the ads were 100% true.
And now, a parody, sung to the tune of “The Beat Goes On” (apologies to Cher, and the estate of Sonny Bono):
The hate goes on, the hate goes on
Ads keep pounding a message to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da
Woo-oo-dstock was once the rage, uh huh
History has turned the page, uh huh
Facebook, the current thing, uh huh
Twitter is our newborn king, uh huh
And the hate goes on, the hate goes on
Ads keep pounding a message to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da
The Internet’s the new frontier, uh huh
Little minds still inspire fear, uh huh
And leading men still keep assigning blame
Technology lets them stay in the game
And the hate goes on, the hate goes on
Ads keep pounding a message to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da
Voters sit in Starbucks and complain
Politicians scheming just to gain
Negativity flying faster all the time
NRA still cries, we have to arm ourselves against crime!
And the hate goes on, the hate goes on.
Ads keep pounding a message to the brain.
La de da de de, la de da de da.
And the hate goes on, yes, the hate goes on.
And the hate goes on, and the hate goes on.
The hate goes on, and the hate goes on.
It would be refreshing to see a candidate condemn the attack ads against his opponent, instead of tacitly applauding them, or repeating their contents loudly and often… And instead– actually concentrate on the issues– how he or she is going to be a PUBLIC SERVANT.
In future elections, it would be even nicer to see a political-contribution boycott of the hate-mongers. However, it would take more than one influential, courageous donor to stand up and refuse to be a party to purchasing airtime for the purpose of spreading ugly lies.
But it is the candidates who must ultimately decide to take the high road and grow up. Voters might react favorably to the first side to do so. Even so, this would be an extremely difficult feat. “Everybody does it” is the excuse everybody uses to justify their unethical behavior. Everyone is drowning each other out with a blizzard of defamation. So multiple groups on one side would have to agree to run a wrap-around campaign to promise to spread messages based on substance, and follow through.
That said, unfortunately, honesty isn’t always a guarantee of competence for an elected official. President Jimmy Carter wasn’t widely reputed to be a liar. Yet, most Americans agree, he was a terrible president. Assessing a candidate, and predicting election results are like gambling– difficult to gauge– because human behavior is unpredictable in the short term.
Anyhow, in 1957, the National Enquirer‘s stories sought to satisfy readers’ morbid curiosity by detailing gruesome occurrences in the city. The publication that was initially drowning in a sea of red ink, turned profitable after years and years. By the mid-1960’s, readers were enthralled by poignant, inspirational stories about underdogs who triumphed, medical matters, celebrity gossip and aliens.
In the early 1970’s, Gene moved his publication’s printing presses from New Jersey to Florida. “He worried about his health, claiming air pollution was killing him, even as he continued to smoke four packs a day.”
Gene spared no expenses in getting a story– bribing anyone and everyone associated with stories to get exclusive, salacious information, and sending his reporters on-location– around the corner or around the world. In this way, the Enquirer acquired a reputation as a tabloid that appealed to the lowest common denominator. The highbrow New York Times didn’t pay interviewees, but instead appealed to their egos, generating favorable publicity for them if they talked.
The author wrote that his father developed psychological problems in his later years, and ruled his empire by fear. He had dirt on various people and let them know it, so that way, he could cash in on a favor from them in the future if he so desired. The son lamented, “No doubt I was spoiled by material things, but not by love.” Read the book to learn the details.
The Book of the Week is “Sons of Wichita, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty” by Daniel Schulman, published in 2014.
Born in Texas in 1900, Fred Koch was of Dutch ancestry. He pronounced his name “coke” instead of the way the late former mayor of New York City (Ed “cotch”) did. He and his wife Mary bore four sons– Fred Jr., Charles, and David and Bill (fraternal twins), starting in 1933.
Fred was a chemical engineer who moved to Wichita, Kansas and became wealthy in the oil-refining industry. In the early 1930’s, he did business with the U.S.S.R. At the dawn of the 1940’s, he switched to ranching due to legal action over patents that Universal Oil launched against Fred’s company, Winkler-Koch, and also Root Refining. His oil company broke up in 1944.
In 1958, Koch joined the new John Birch Society, a rabidly anti-Communist group who saw Communists everywhere it looked, including those in unions, in charge of government financial programs, and in the United Nations. And the Boy Scouts. It aggressively spread hysteria about these people who were a threat to the American way. Fred had seen the political system in the Soviet Union when he was there, and realized it oppressed people.
Fred, Jr. took after his mother and upon reaching adulthood, moved to New York City and ran with the theater crowd. Charles, his father’s favorite, was groomed to take over the family business, which became Koch Industries. He did so in late 1967, when Fred passed away. The business made acquisitions in the oil industry and its sole goal was growth.
Charles had previously acquired extensive education in chemical and nuclear engineering. In the early 1970’s, he became interested in acquiring knowledge on the political ideology of libertarianism. He became a convert to it in its most extreme form. It espouses the belief that a purely capitalist society is the best economic system. This means total deregulation, no entitlements such as government-administered retirement or medical plans, no unions, no socialism of any kind, no income tax, and a government whose role is only to protect citizens and property from each other and outsiders, and from fraud.
In 1980, David Koch ran for American president on the Libertarian ticket. He knew he couldn’t possibly win but the goal was to plant seeds for future acceptance of his political ideology.
In early 1997, Charles co-founded the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. He and his brother David poured money into front groups that aggressively lobbied to reduce the size of government and expand the public’s freedoms. In 2008, the brothers opposed the taxpayer bailouts of companies bankrupted by the subprime mortgage crisis, and opposed deficit spending. They also denied allying with the Tea Party politicians but were secretly supporting them. About a year later, Charles and his henchmen launched fierce opposition to President Barack Obama’s national health care plan.
During his 2012 reelection campaign, Obama viewed the Koch brothers as a bigger threat than his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. Obama copied the Kochs’ above actions (forming propagandizing front groups) to counteract the libertarians. Successfully.
As a result of their political mentality, Charles and David could have cared less about the environmental destruction and wrongful deaths their company caused due to poorly maintained oil and gas pipelines. Perhaps to salve his conscience, David made huge donations to cultural institutions, especially in New York City. The liberals (hypocritically) gratefully accepted the money, notwithstanding David’s political activities that led to rack and ruin. He also heavily funded medical research on prostate cancer, presumably to enhance the chances of his own physical survival.
Read the book to learn of the lawsuits that started in 1982 that Bill launched against Charles on various causes of action; the details of the Koch Industries’ legal troubles; the brothers’ sibling rivalry; the corporate culture of market-based management that Charles instituted in the family business; and what the siblings did for fun and profit; etc., etc., etc.
The Book of the Week is “Partisans” by David Laskin, published in 2000. This book describes the soap-opera lives of a few of New York’s literati from the 1930’s into the 1970’s; specifically those associated with the left-wing publication “Partisan Review.” The relationships of the people described therein were like those of tabloid celebrities. They had alcohol-related physical fights, breakups and reconciliations with their multiple significant others. However, they considered themselves superior to others because they were literate.
This included promiscuous Vassar graduate Mary McCarthy, who, for a spell, shacked up with Philip Rahv, the journal’s editor. In early 1938, she left him to wed Edmund Wilson, more than a decade her senior. “Philip Rahv and Allen Tate… had a gift for spotting new talent… and sleeping with the discoveries when they were attractive females (sometimes the same females…)” In his lifetime, poet Robert Lowell had to deal with the traumas of mental illness and his parents’ deaths.
The women writers in those days, for whom it was customary to attach themselves to men, being female– were forced to confront the issues of “… power, money, work, prestige, sex, domestic labor, body image and freedom.”
Read the book to learn more about the lives and times, books, articles and poetry penned by other “New York intellectuals” too, such as Jean Stafford, Elizabeth Hardwick, Hannah Arendt, Caroline Gordon and Diana Trilling.
The Book of the Week is “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking” by Anya Von Bremzen, published in 2013. This volume recounts the food-related details of the lives of the author (born in 1963) and her mother, who, up until 1974, lived in the former Soviet Union before moving to the United States. As can be surmised, they suffered many hardships from successive oppressive regimes that gave rise to hunger.
Under Vladimir Lenin in 1918 Russia, “The very notion of pleasure from flavorful food was reviled as capitalist degeneracy.” Millions died of starvation under Stalin in 1927 when he took over the means of grain production. The author’s grandfather, possessor of exceptional survival skills, was an intelligence officer under Stalin, so Von Bremzen’s family had access to the food of the wealthy. The author’s mother raised her to be a food snob. Stalin’s personal culinary expert Anastas Mikoyan visited America in 1936. “Unlike evil, devious Britain, the US was considered a semi-friendly competitor – though having American relatives could still land you in the gulag.” That attitude had changed by 1952.
The author’s mother celebrated the anniversary of Stalin’s March 1953 death, with a dinner party. She wed in 1958 at a government office and “…moved into her mother-in-law’s communal apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen.”
The Soviets recycled mayonnaise jars all the time for many purposes, including medical samples; the jar itself was expected to be provided by the patient. When the author and her mother moved to the U.S., “Ahead of us was an era of blithely disposable objects.” Von Bremzen’s culture shock arose while food-shopping not from the dizzying array of products, but from the inability to show off those products to less fortunate people, such as Soviets. All Americans took such cornucopia for granted. She was disgusted that American food appeared to be phony and lowbrow, like Spam. At Christmas, Von Bremzen was grossed out by Oreos: “…charcoal-black cookies filled with something white and synthetic. A charcoal-black cookie! Would anyone eat such a thing?”
Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign ired many Soviets, as “Getting booze for the holidays ranked at the top of everyone’s concerns.” All the Soviet intelligentsia drank excessively. It was unpatriotic to not drink. Everyone had a drinking partner. Proposing toasts and making conversation with the partner was mandatory. Drinking alone was anathema, socially unacceptable.
Read the book to learn more about the Soviet culinary culture and history through the decades, and even see some authentic recipes.
The Book of the Week is “Meskel” by Mellina and Lukas Fanouris, originally published in 1995.
This is the story of two families, two of whose members– the authors– married and lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia) through the 1970’s. Their forebears had originally come from Greece to live in Abyssinia in 1926. Upon settling in their new country, wife and husband of one family– Evangelia and Manoli Fanouris, started a Greek restaurant, and newspaper and magazine distribution business/bookstore. Then they began having children; Lukas was one of the younger ones.
In late 1934, there was border fighting between Abyssinia and Italian Somaliland. The Italians used poison gas against the Somalis. Although Evangelia’s brother Logotheti had designed the Royal Palace and had friends in high places, Emperor Haile Selassie still threatened Manoli with death because he sold foreign publications that were critical of the regime. Other untoward events occurred through the years, due to the Italian invasion and later, WWII. Nevertheless, the Fanouris did not leave the country, as their business provided them with a good life.
Mellina married Lukas Fanouris when he aggressively courted her. The families had known each other for years from the Greek community in Addis Ababa. She worked for the United Nations. In late 1973, Ethiopia was facing “… union unrest, drought in the north, and rumors of famine, allegations of corruption in the government and rising food prices.” Army soldiers were fed up with their living conditions and turned against the Emperor. Lukas’ parents lived richly, what with a five-bedroom, five-bath mansion, flower garden, balcony and verandas. But there came a time when they finally needed to flee anti-government strikes, protests and violence.
In September 1974, a documentary on Ethiopians’ starvation due to drought was finally released, after the military had taken control of the media. In December, the nation changed from a kingdom to a socialist state, limiting the imported reading material of the populace to Marx, Lenin and Engels. Businesses were nationalized and martial law was imposed. The new leader, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, copied other dictators in recent memory– Stalin (U.S.S.R.), Mao Tse Tung (China), Peron (Argentina), Pinochet (Chile) and Pol Pot (Cambodia), by ordering citizens to do hard manual labor on farms, telling them to take pride in feeding the country; and by imposing the usual witchhunts, torture, arrests, show-trials and imprisonment for political dissidents and members of the old regime. Not to mention the trampling on what industrialized, democtratic nations would consider due process.
Read the book to learn the details of how the authors survived the attack on their freedoms through the 1970’s, and the suspenseful survival saga of Lukas and his brother Pavlos.
This blogger read (except for the first and last sections) “My Father, His Daughter” by Yael Dayan, first published in 1985. This is an account of the life of Moshe Dayan and his relationship with the author– his only daughter. It starts and ends with the circumstances surrounding his death (a bit of a tedious pity party).
The author’s father, an alpha male, became a legendary figure in Israel as a military leader and political appointee on and off from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. He was also memorable for wearing an eyepatch, the result of a war injury. Aside from serving his country, his other passions included farming and archeology.
Prior to WWII, Dayan became involved with the Haganah– an Israeli intelligence agency. Through the 1940’s, Czechoslovakia provided arms to the Israelis, but in the 1950’s, it did so for Israel’s then-enemy, Egypt. Dayan was responsible for overseeing troop deployments and was consulted on the allocation of resources and appointments of other military leaders in various wars through the decades.
Read the book to learn, aside from Dayan’s life, about: the author and her family members; her experiences growing up with a father who exerted a huge influence on her homeland’s history; and how this ironically afforded her opportunities (and made her want) to live abroad in adulthood.
The Book of the Week is “Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen” by Lisa J. Shannon, published in 2015.
This ebook is the product of the author’s interview of two generations of a family from the Congo, starting in the 1970’s (the anecdotes’ time frames are rarely specified). The book documents the fates of many of its members– victims of the ongoing system of violence, perpetrated by a political group called the LRA, which had migrated from Uganda. Shannon starts with biographical information on the matriarch of the family, Mama Koko.
Mama Koko’s elders arranged her marriage for her when she was a baby: “…she was called out of class at the age of twelve. Her classmates and the nuns watched as the young beauty in her Catholic-school uniform arrived in the mission’s courtyard garden to find a strange old man waiting for her, introducing himself as her husband.” She was rebellious and rejected him. She put off a life of servitude for three years in order to finish the fifth grade; after which, the priest finally pressured her, under threat of death, to accept her fate.
The culture in the Congo is to ask “Who is your family?” the same way Americans ask “What do you do?” when meeting people. Their livelihoods were mostly agricultural– growing cotton, coffee, cassava, rice and peanuts. The core family of the story ran a plantation and a shop. The people also practiced polygamy. ” Andre and his only brother Alexander were both sons of Game, who had four wives and forty-three children.”
The author suffered an attack of conscience, fantasizing about adopting a deprived child when she personally visited Congo. She saw for herself the life-threatening conditions under which the Congolese lived every day, even in geographic areas of relative calm. “I’d heard the snarky comments back home about white-savior complexes; I understood I was trampling too far into cultural sensitivities.”
Read this depressing ebook to learn the various ways people died (most of the time shot on the spot) at the hands of ruthless child-soldiers who themselves were tortured and drugged to make them kill villagers. One bright spot was that an American Peace Corps volunteer was able to provide a better life for one female in the family. They moved to the United States.