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February 13, 1989 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-13

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 13, 1989 - Page 9

Books
Continued from Page 8
Nonetheless, Acker refuses to
tassign the U.S. 100 percent of the
blame for Honduras' problems.
Hondurans themselves, she argues,
must accept part of the blame for
their current troubles.
Acker traces Honduras' tragedy
back to the long centuries of
Spanish rule, during which Honduras
served as a colonial satellite not only
for the metropolitan power, but for
its Central American counterpart in
Guatemala City, Madrid's
administrative capital for the entire
isthmus. Consequently, Acker
argues, Honduras was less prepared
for independence than any other
Spanish colony. It had little sense of
itself as a nation and no sense of
self-government. After independence,
people and forces with common
interests fought instead of working

together, paving the way for U.S.
interventionists who were all too
happy to divide and conquer.
Similar forces have undermined
the potential power of Honduras'
popular movements, themselves the
focus of four highly informative
chapters. Whether she is describing
the history of labor unions or
peasant cooperatives, student
struggles or oppositional parties,
Acker's tales have a common plot
line: Honduran political movements
demonstrate signs of incredible
power and promise, only to fall
victim to the same centrifugal forces
that have plagued the country since
the Conquest.
Acker's account of the labor
movement provides a good example.
A highly promising banana strike in
1954 spread to other sectors,
virtually grinding the economy to a
halt. But within weeks, the U.S. had
managed to play on regional and
ideological differences to sabotaged

the strike and destroy the major
unions involved. Honduras quickly
went from being a potential model
of labor activism in Central America
to a test-case for the soon-to-be-
formed AIFLD, which would
subsequently sabotage unions - and
governments - in countries such as
Guyana and Chile.
As her many similar stories make
clear, Acker's account of the banana
strike is a microcosm of this banana
republic's history as a whole. While
the U.S. did not create Honduras'
problems, it has certainly
exacerbated them, transforming
potentially reversible liabilities into
inescapable catastrophes. And Hon-
duras offers little hope that
conditions will improve. One can
only hope, in the words of Honduran
politician Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga,
that the increasingly obvious
consequences of a U.S. presence will
"do us all a favour by bringing
Hondurans together."-Mike Fischer

however.
The play leaves a final impression
of an exciting visual and aural mon-
tage without a sense of wholeness.
While the play does confront the
cultural myths about women. and
Europeans perpetuated by this genre
of film, it only brushes the surface of
those myths. That is too bad, be-
cause the cast gives a fine perfor-
mance, and the production is techni-
cally brilliant. A sharper focus and a
relaxing of "avant-garde" conventions
would make for a telling final effect.
As it stands now, however, the play
tries to take on too much, leaving
the audience with scattered impres-

The Last American in Paris, an avant-garde play at the Trueblood
Theatre, features a roving camera onstage which emphasizes the pro-
duction's cinematic influences.
sions. p.m., Saturdays at S and 9 p.m., and
THE LAST AMERICAN IN PARIS Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50
runs until Feb. 26 at the Trueblood general admission, $5 with student
Theater, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 I.D.

In the New World: Growing up
with America from the Sixties to
the Eighties
By Lawrence Wright
Vintage Books Paperback/$8.95
"Not another baby boom book," you moan.
This one is different. My editors are always after me
to "add quotes!" to my reviews. It's often quite difficult
to find sentences that really bring home what the vari-
ous authors are trying to say, if they have anything to
say at all. But with Lawrence Wright's second novel,
In the New World, I had the opposite problem; so
much of what he has to say is worth remembering.
Wright's book "is neither a formal history nor a
straightforward memoir, but a half-breed offspring of
both genres." It is history seen through the eyes of a
man raised in the new world of Dallas, Texas during
the era of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
"Dallas?" you repeat with scorn. "Not a place I
would want to live. Too religious, too conservative,
too many cheap people despite all of their new
money." Wright recognizes this attitude and works

with it. He talks;
politics, Vietnam,

about his family, national figures,
civil rights, the sexual revolution.

He begins with his youth and the consequences of
John Kennedy. Although the man who shot him was a
Marxist and an atheist, "the Anti-Dallas, the summa-
tion of all we hated and feared," the world believed
Dallas "had willed [Kennedy] dead." It was an accusa-
tion Dallas had to live with for a lot of years.
He describes crazy Southerners who had a big effect
on his outlook. Will Campbell, for instance, a Baptist
preacher who was "the only white man to join Martin
Luther King in forming the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference." He was more commonly
known as "the preacher who ministered to the Ku Klux
Klan." His motto was "We are all bastards but God
loves us anyway." This man helped Wright understand
that he "would have to accept (himself) as a white
Southern man" even though he was "never more
ashamed of (himself) in that respect" (because of the
damage he saw his white culture inflicting on minori-
ties everywhere).
Wright is a very truthful and concerned narrator. He
writes that "all of us carry history about inside us, that

centuries of conflict and struggle, prejudices, successes
and failures, are hammered into us in the form of traits,
which are as irrefutable as genes." He explains history
through his own growth process.
Wright describes his childhood world as so small
that he "had no experience with any person of another
race in Dallas, except (his family's) weekly maid. (He)
was an unconscious racist." As an adult, he saw "the
damage caused to minorities by white culture" and he
was ashamed. After the war, looking for a job, Wright
felt "queer to be the victim of discrimination, while at
the same time approving of it." Later, when his boss
fired him, saying "I just don't think you can get along
with Black people," it was "an accusation (he) would
never forgive, but also never stop wondering about, and
worrying that it was true."
Although the book is in part a personal history in
which the author tries to come to terms with who he
is, it is also a history of the world from the '60s to the
'80s. He repeats everything we've always been told
about the various Presidents, Vietnam... but he adds
his own perspective. Sometimes he's funny, other
times he's more thoughtful.

He secretly liked for Khrushchev and Castro, who
reminded him of "two of the Three Stooges, Curley and
Moe; they were obviously having a great time." He
sees Ronald Reagan as the President on horseback that
Ted Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News,
had told President Kennedy was needed to lead the
country in 1961.
Reagan was also the President who broke the "evil
spell" that had existed in Dallas since the death of
Kennedy. The two men were so similar: "Like
Kennedy, Reagan's personality - his strength and wit
and charm - overwhelmed his politics. Like Kennedy,
he was more illusion than retlity, more myth than
man." And like Kennedy, this president was shot by a
Dallasite. But this President lived and Dallas was not
blamed for the attempt.
From the assassination of John Kennedy to the as-
sassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, this Texan
travels full circle in coming to terms with himself as a
white Southern man in an age when this background
was not favorable. His narrative is insightful, funny,
and worth reading.
-Jill Pisoni

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Thu 1Deartment q js y
PRESENTS WO PUBLIC LECTURES BY
CL4YB OCIVEc 49? O?(
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY
AND GENERAL EDITOR OF THE PAPERS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

If you want to go places, it's time for the American
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