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review 2013-10-25 14:56
The Tinderbox (retold by Stephen Mitchell with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline)
The Tinderbox - Stephen Mitchell, Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator)

Wow!  This has never been one of my favorite HC Andersen stories.  Even I, who enjoy a bit of grit and gore with my fairy tales and certainly don't demand a tidy moral, have always found this story more than just a bit squirm-worthy.  This book changed my mind completely! 


It is still a wacky, brutal, immoral story, but I LOVE it.  I would say that it's due almost entirely to the illustrations which are beyond fantastic - somehow making the three huge eyed dogs both grotesque and adorable at the same time. 


However, I think much of the appeal also has a lot to do with Stephen Mitchell's retelling.  I love Andersen, really I do, but some of his stories really can be a drag.  Mitchell somehow made this story fun and lighthearted and I really don't know how he did that given how much bizarre and unnecessary violence takes place.  Ah, the power of words!


A little sample of Ibatoulline's awesomeness:



Check out more at his official website: http://www.bagramibatoulline.com/


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review 2012-06-01 00:00
Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It - Craig Timberg,Daniel Halperin I found this a useful summary of recent advances in our understanding of HIV, its origins, and its prevention. I read it after Epstein's The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS, which covers some of the same points. Together they provide a good update or review. Add Dow and Essex's Saturday Is for Funerals and you've got a pretty good seminar reading list. I read Tinderbox because I was on my way to sub-Saharan Africa for an HIV seminar and I wanted to be sure my knowledge was up to date. Of as much interest as the book were the significant number of vituperative reviews on Amazon. I can't comment on those that accused Timberg and Halperin of writing a worse book than Pepin's The Origins of AIDS, since I haven't yet read it. A few reviewers assert that only condoms prevent AIDS. I will merely say that this simply isn't true and move on. The troubling reviews go like this: Halperin is falsely representing male circumcision as an effective HIV prevention technique because he is Jewish and has the agenda of somehow Judaizing Africa. Some of these reviews are quite anti-Semitic. As I say, I was in sub-Saharan Africa, so I thought I'd ask. Specifically, I asked several experts, ranging from government health representatives to heads of medical centers treating HIV. Here's a typical conversation:Me: "A new book in the US supports male circumcision, saying that it decreases HIV acquisition by the circumcised males."Expert: "Yes, this is true. The foreskin has receptors that HIV attaches to easily, so circumcision decreases the male's likelihood of becoming HIV+."Me: "Some people in the US believe that the results of the Orange Farm study are not statistically valid. They say that the one of the authors is promoting male circumcision for religious reasons."Expert: [Puzzled frown.]Me: "They say that because he is Jewish he is trying to convert Africans to Judaism."Expert: 1) "Do they not know that Islamic men are circumcised?" or 2) "But that wouldn't make a man Jewish" or 3) "Actually, many of the groups in this region practiced adolescent circumcision prior to the introduction of Christianity" or 4) [bewildered stare].Me: "So if I were to reply to these allegations, what would you like me to say?"Expert: "We would like you to say that African medical professionals are satisfied with the results of the Orange Farm study."There you go. I'm not going to post it on Amazon, but I report it here. And I'm not going to argue about it.
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review 2012-03-11 00:00
Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It - Craig Timberg,Daniel Halperin This book will shake you up. The authors are honest, and forthright in their appraisal of how AIDS began and spread through Africa, and the various means, both good and bad, used to try and stop it. Not for the sensitive as some of the narrative is rather graphic. The story is very accessible to the lay reader. Overall this one got five stars, and the book is one that I can recommend to anyone interested in the topic.

For the longer review, please go here:
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review 2010-08-21 00:00
The Tinderbox - Stephen Mitchell, Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator) The illustrations are pleasing and the prose style pleasant, but this is just not a favorite story of mine. The protagonist lacks morals and common sense, and might makes right is the only moral I can draw from this retelling.
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review 2009-10-21 00:00
The Tinderbox - Stephen Mitchell, Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator) Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline
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