A skillful combination of antiterrorism fireworks with perceptive analysis of our strategies, many of which remain...

FIND, FIX, FINISH

INSIDE THE COUNTERTERRORISM CAMPAIGNS THAT KILLED BIN LADEN AND DEVASTATED AL-QAEDA

International terrorists rarely make headlines today, write the authors, but senior national security advisor Peritz and Defense Department counterterrorism expert Rosenbach emphasize that this success required much pain, and the end is not in sight.

Post–World War II Islamic terrorism worried U.S. leaders but produced no coherent policy. Burned by the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue and 1993 Black Hawk Down massacre, military leaders insisted their forces not be involved. Budget cuts, little capacity for paramilitary action and unimaginative leadership hampered the CIA. Ironically, solving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing persuaded the FBI that its low-priority counterterrorism system was working. The events of 9/11 produced an avalanche of money and action, which have chipped away at terrorist networks, forcing them to concentrate on smaller, less-risky local attacks, locally planned, mostly by disaffected individuals. The authors provide step-by-step accounts of the capture or killing of dozens of terrorists, almost always in cooperation with other nations, principally Pakistan. America’s problems with Pakistan arise from its support of the Taliban, a local movement with no interest in international terrorism. The authors temper these successes with some unsettling reminders. We invaded Afghanistan to root out al-Qaeda but ended up fighting the Taliban. A sideshow, the Iraq War consumed enormous resources to no good purpose. Targeted assassination, torture, prisoner rendering, indefinite detention and vastly expanded surveillance within America provide short-term satisfaction but store up strategic, diplomatic and moral quandaries which we are now experiencing.

A skillful combination of antiterrorism fireworks with perceptive analysis of our strategies, many of which remain inappropriate, wasteful and positively Orwellian.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61039-128-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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

NIGHT

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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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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