Despite a few bad baseball metaphors and some misplaced breeziness, Miller’s account is well considered. Recommended reading...




A word to the next president regarding peace talks in the Middle East: “If you’re not prepared to reassure the locals while cracking heads as needed (and both will be needed), don’t bother.”

So ventures negotiator and Middle East specialist Miller, a veteran of many incidents requiring tough talk and tough action and a survivor of Yitzhak Rabin’s legendary wrath. (Rabin called Miller’s Clinton-era Declaration of Principles “the worst American text since Camp David.”) This book combines memoir with what might be called a primer on diplomacy, ending with some carefully reasoned suggestions for the next president to heed. He is a diplomat through and through, but it doesn’t take much between-the-lines reading to discern that he finds the present administration wanting in that regard. Its vaunted road map, he writes, had little chance “to get the car out of the parking lot, let alone onto the highway.” Yet, just as clearly, Miller takes seriously the need to fight a long war on terror and the fact that Israel is a chief battlefield in that war. He warns that the Middle East is a “bad, bad neighborhood,” fraught with perils of many kinds. He also opines that the golden age of Arab-Israeli diplomacy is past, with no current leaders of the likes of Rabin, Hussein, Begin and Sadat to take up the difficult job of peacemaking in an atmosphere where many of their compatriots do not seem to want it. Yet, Miller urges, majorities on both sides do want peace, and if they are to have it Washington must take the lead, even if “the primary responsibility for peacemaking rests with the Arabs and Israelis, not with the Americans.”

Despite a few bad baseball metaphors and some misplaced breeziness, Miller’s account is well considered. Recommended reading for the next administration, if not this one.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-553-80490-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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