A solid overview of how psychology, rather than violence, might provide the way to peace.



An attempt “to forge a comprehensive, provocative, and accessible narrative about the Israeli mind.”

Israeli-American clinical psychologist Gratch (If Love Could Think: Using Your Mind to Guide Your Heart, 2005, etc.), based in New York, uses his background as a sabra (an Israeli Jew born in Israel), combined with humor and anecdotal evidence, to provide a useful exploration of Israeli national character traits, most of which he shares. The “outside-inside” approach is compelling, though admittedly, the author is wading into perilous waters; a fellow scholar warned him that “the very concept of national character could be racist.” Yet as a psychologist, Gratch is fascinated by group action and conflict resolution. First, he delves into the trauma and fragmentation inherent in the Israeli makeup: the endurance of cycles of war and peace, followed by immigrant arrival and absorption, dramatic change, instability, and forced adaptability. Israelis are hugely polarized along right-left lines and largely secular yet devoted to the national Jewish founding (i.e., biblical) myth, although Gratch shows how each side is passionately attracted to its opposite—a reflection of Freud’s concept of reaction formation. The author offers astute observations regarding the mind and actions of the narcissist. On one hand, the Jews’ self-identity as the chosen people allowed them a self-aggrandizing role in history; on the other hand, their “outsized” accomplishments in all fields over the ages have resulted from a “compensatory drive” to overcome their sense of insignificance. Another facet of Israeli narcissism, Gratch notes, is the lack of empathy, revealed in the inability to understand and experience the plight of their neighbors, the Palestinians. More troubling than the Israeli disrespect for authority and penchant for cutting corners is the deeply internalized sense of victimization that manifests in paranoia and defensiveness—a frightening mix vis-à-vis the Iran nuclear crisis and conflict with the Palestinians.

A solid overview of how psychology, rather than violence, might provide the way to peace.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06780-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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