Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman, Reviewed by Mark D. Walker

  The Long Night of White Chickens was my introduction to Francisco Goldman, the author who I selected to review due to his connections to Guatemala, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  Though born in Boston, his mother is a Catholic Guatemalan, his father Jewish American, so his life started off with an intriguing combination of influences. The book is a tense, almost surrealistic detective story that opens windows on the Latin American reality of State Sponsored assassinations, marabunta youth gangs and organized crime. His next book, Say Her Name, is an evocative story of love and loss between […]

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“The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee, Reviewed by Mark D. Walker

I initially came across this book after listening to several interviews with the author and realized that her focus on how racism affects all Americans was consistent with what we’ve learned about the consequences of the COVID pandemic, where the majority of developing countries are unable to access the vaccine, despite none of us being safe until everyone is vaccinated.  And the consequences of ignoring the plight of so many Central Americans forced to flee their homes to head north in search of safety and a decent quality of life. The author embarks on a deeply personal journey across the […]

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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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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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Testimony: Death of a Guatemalan Village by Victor Montejo

  This would be the fourth of Montejo’s books I’d review in preparation for the production of a documentary on migration, “Guatemala: Trouble in the Highlands.” I’ve found this eyewitness account from a primary school teacher to be one of the most graphic descriptions of the violent conflicts between the Maya people and the army. Now that I’ve talked with him on several occasions, I appreciate why he is one of the most respected Maya intellectuals and activists in Guatemala today. And I can see why “Third World Resources” states, “One would be hard-pressed to cram more suspense and drama […]

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