A passionate—often grim—account of a country and a people trying to find peace after decades of war.




A writer who has focused on violence against women travels to Afghanistan after the American-led invasion and finds plenty to write about.

Shaken by the Sept. 11 attacks and the “strut and bluster” of America’s president, New Yorker Jones (Next Time, She’ll Be Dead, 1994) seeks to do something about it. In 2002, she moves to Kabul, volunteers at a small non-profit dedicated to assisting the country’s thousands of war widows and also begins to teach English to local educators. She finds a country traumatized from years of war and violence, where women, who struggle under an oppressive patriarchy, are locked in prison for “crimes” such as being forced into prostitution by their husbands. Jones visits others who have been hospitalized after setting themselves on fire out of shame because they did not bleed after having sex on their wedding nights. Jones writes angrily of the divide between the upbeat reports Americans see on the news and receive from political leaders, and the harsh reality of life in Afghanistan. She details the blunders of the well-funded but often misguided international community, which throws millions of dollars at projects that have little impact on the daily lives of the country’s people. From the Afghan perspective, Jones writes, foreign aid workers live like kings, riding around in large SUVs and grabbing the city’s best housing. In the meantime, Afghanistan has reestablished itself as the world’s leading opium supplier, with profits from the trade flowing to warlords and politicians alike. The story is most captivating when Jones steps outside her own anger and simply describes the women she meets in the course of her work; the narrative occasionally bogs down when she attempts to pack in centuries of Afghanistan’s complicated history.

A passionate—often grim—account of a country and a people trying to find peace after decades of war.

Pub Date: March 21, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-7884-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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