Persuasive evidence that Boris Yeltsin, since becoming president of Russia, may have found the KGB far too useful an organization to have tried seriously to constrain it. Knight (Senior Research Analyst/Library of Congress; Beria, 1993) using some of the archival material that has recently become available, as well as interviews and the vigorous Russian press coverage of security matters, demonstrates how Russia's security services have been weakened by the demise of the Soviet Union. There is no censorship, abuses are freely criticized in the press, and many of the sanctions previously available to the KGB can no longer be used. But Yeltsin, she believes, has been readier to change the names and responsibilities of his security agencies than seriously to tamper with their powers. Even the KGB-led ``coup'' to topple Gorbachev—a story which looks increasingly threadbare as evidence grows of Gorbachev's complicity in it—did not persuade Yeltsin to take stern action against the security agency. Indeed, turbulence within Russia, including the huge increase in criminal activity and the events in Chechnya, clearly increased the influence of the security services. Similarly, while the foreign intelligence service was even more severely affected by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it continued to run agents like Aldrich Ames very effectively until 1994 (while apparent KGB ``dissidents'' like Gen. Oleg Kalugin were saying that there were no KGB moles in the CIA). The irony is that Russia, with the largest and most powerful police apparatus in Eastern Europe, has hardly confronted the question of its abuses. The democratic institutions beginning to emerge, she concludes, ``will remain fragile until the security services are reformed.'' Knight cannot avoid the difficulty inherent in her subject of having to draw conclusions from scanty evidence, but this is the most scholarly and dispassionate assessment yet available of a question critical to the future of Russia.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-691-02577-0

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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