Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security” by Todd Miller

  Reviewed by Mark D. Walker  This book caught my attention, as the author connects climate change and the hostility toward refugees, which is a key theme I focus on in a documentary on immigration in Central America. Although much debate on the existence of climate change that I’m exposed to takes place among relatively well-to-do urban dwellers, the author points out that 48 of the “least developed countries” are five times more likely to die in a climate-related disaster than the rest of world. Floods are now impacting 21 million people worldwide annually and by 2030, a “double exposure […]

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The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill Reviewed by Mark D. Walker

  My middle daughter gifted me this book, which remained next to my bed for over five months due to its imposing size and more than 500 pages. But I decided to check it out as part of my “Black Lives Matter” awareness program. What was slavery about and how had it impacted the U. S. for so long? In this case, Aminata Diallo would be taken from her village in West Africa and placed on a slave ship in Sierra Leone – where I’d worked for three years. The ship was bound for South Carolina and from there she’d […]

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Author Interview in SIETAR Newsletter (Soc. Intercultural Education, Training & Research) on Moritz Thomsen

CRAIG STORTI BOOKMARKS: LIVING POOR AND THE SADDEST PLEASURE 14 Dec 2020 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator) TWO BY MORITZ THOMSEN: Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure Reviewed by Craig Storti There’s a movement afoot (led in part by Mark Walker, see the interview below) to elevate Moritz Thomsen to the status of a Very Important Writer, someone whose books stay in print for generations and get assigned in college literature classes, someone whose name every well-read person should know. And we here at BookMarks are happy to do our part. We briefly mentioned Thomsen in one of our previous columns (where we reviewed […]

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Africa Memoir by Mark G. Wentling, Review by Mark D. Walker

I’ve read and reviewed several of the author’s books over the years. We were both Peace Corps Volunteers in Central America and worked in West Africa, although Wentling went on to work and travel in 54 African countries over the years. My favorite book from his “African Trilogy” is “Africa’s Embrace,” which is fiction, but reflects his experience working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa in the 1970s. The well-developed characters force the reader deep into the heart of Africa. Wentling worked with USAID and the State Department, so his book, “Dead Cow Road,” is an authentic and […]

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On the Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac

  After writing several “counter culture” articles on my experiences in the early 1970s, the first entitled, “Crested Butte 1970: Reflections of a Town in Transition,” I decided it was time to re-read perhaps the most influential beat generation book, “On the Road.” This book is now ranked number two on Amazon’s “Beat Generation Criticism” list, after “Dharma Bums” by the same author. The New York Times hailed the book as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac named years ago as “beat.” In 1998, the Modern Library ranked On […]

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Homeland Elegies a Novel, by Ayad Akhtar

  I initially heard Ayad Akhtar when he was interviewed by PBS and then came across the words of Bill Moyers about one of the author’s many plays on what was to be Moyers’ last; his plays are “not only history, but prophecy. A Biblical-like account of who’s running America, and how.” Moyers added: “Our times at last have found their voice, and it belongs to a Pakistani American: Ayad Akhtar.” This novel about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, told from the perspective of a Muslim writer, is a must read. The book reflects […]

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Neighbors: Oral History From Madera, California, Volume 2, by Lawrence F. Lihosit

  As one of the proofers of Volume 2, I was pleased to help Lorenzo with his latest of sixteen, soon to be seventeen books. I used his, “Peace Corps Experience: Write & Publish Your Memoir” to write my own, “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond.” He obviously knows the Central California area and history well, especially Madera, where he now lives. I totally agree with the publisher of “Madera Tribune,” “The best of its kind in print. Like Volume 1, the author offers real-life stories by citizens of Madera, California. It seems like they speak […]

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The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

  As part of my ongoing education on “Black Lives Matter,” revisiting the tenth-anniversary edition of this iconic best seller, which the Chronicle of Higher Education deemed “one of the most influential books of the past 20 years” seemed timely. I recently learned that Blacks comprise 47% of people in prison in Florida, and yet make up only 17% of the population, and also that Florida was one of four remaining states where felons are banned for life from voting. That changed when 65% of the population voted to restore ballot access to people with prior felony convictions, so what […]

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Borges and Me: An Encounter by Jay Parini

This seemed the perfect time to read a story that took place in the early 1970s, when Jay Parini arrived at the oldest university in Scotland in flight from his draft board in the U.S., which had designs on sending him to Vietnam. I had just published an article about my flight from my draft board that same period, “Crested Butte 1970: Reflections on a Town in Transition.”  My flight would be to Guatemala with the Peace Corps, but I also had ties to St. Andrews Scotland where Parini had escaped. My wife and I visited my mother’s cousin and […]

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Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

  The lock down caused by COVID-19 has laid bare the growing inequalities and injustices in our social and economic systems today and yet offered a good opportunity to understand its foundations. As well as why so many white Americans seem willing to ignore the needs of their fellow citizens in order to maintain a system which benefits them so mightily, while ignoring and explaining away the suffering of others. The public, excruciating murder of George Floyd sparked an awakening among many white people and our nation’s systemic racism and offered an opportunity to better appreciate its power and longevity […]

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