Read between 11.30 pm and 4.45 a.m. last night. One big gulp of stinky, corrupt water and the lives that were washed away in it -- and continue to be devastated by injustices codified and rationalized by "The War On Terror" -- the U.S.'s own citizens murdered by ineptitude, bureacracy and a racist, elitist, fear-based world-view that prioritized building prisons over providing food, water and shelter.
Eggers at his very best. What he manages to do here (a lesson learned from the backlash against What Is The What?
perhaps) is avoid the confusion and perceived trickery of calling this a "memoir-autobiography" and flat-out states this as non-fiction. What it is: a work of great investigative journalism, told through the eyes of a family that lived it, confirmed with secondary sources.
This is the Eggers we all want, I think: one who can weave real-world events and the social injustices they expose into compelling personal narrative that motivates others (readers) to action. At least, I hope this is what we want -- because we need this kind of voice, and this kind of literary journalism.
Sure, he gets a bit preachy at the end (but by that point, we want him to just SAY IT. Voice the anger; name the enemy.) And yes, there are the inevitable strings left hanging, story threads dropped or, conversely, too-neatly summed up, and a too-long "where are they now" section that really just introduced a whole bunch of other issues and sub-stories.
Still, it's few and far between the books that keep me up all night, and leave me shaking with anger, sad and mobilized at the same time.