A thoughtful, well-written addition to the literature on a bitterly debated subject.

JERUSALEM 1913

THE ORIGINS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT

A searching contribution to the history of the troubles in Palestine by Wall Street Journal reporter and former Middle East correspondent Marcus.

Many Western historians locate the birth of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the British Mandate, which governed Palestine from 1920 to 1948. Marcus pushes the date back to 1913, when the Zionist movement had established itself in Palestine and begun to enlist European settlers, mostly from Russia. One recruiting device, a film by Russian Zionist Noah Sokolovsky of the Jewish enterprise, conveyed “a pulsing nationalism that did not need words or sound to vividly express itself.” Arab leaders, naturally, were wary of such expressions of nationalism, and as the Zionist presence grew and with it Arab resentment, the previously broadly agreed upon “notion of a country made up of various peoples united by a common identity seemed to be receding.” To the credit of both, the Zionist and Arab leadership made efforts at détente, or perhaps even entente, during an international conference devoted to dismantling the Ottoman Empire. However, the growing numbers of Jews in the Arab land spawned violence and terrorist actions; the infamous “Rehovot incident” sharply divided the two camps, and with that came an end to the idea that a multiethnic secular state might emerge once the Ottomans left. Leaders such as the German-born attorney Arthur Ruppin foresaw that the problem would only grow, and he encouraged the development of the kibbutz system and Jewish settlements that were located close to one another for easier defense, quickening the pace of land acquisition and with it Jewish immigration. Interestingly, Marcus notes, the Turkish government recently released some 14,000 pages of documents related to land sales in and around Jerusalem. “It wasn’t clear yet what the archive would reveal,” she writes, “but the shadow cast by 1913 seemed to loom ever larger over the city’s future.”

A thoughtful, well-written addition to the literature on a bitterly debated subject.

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-03836-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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