Effectively argued, though the reader may pause to wonder how the Falashas are doing today.



Suspenseful true tale of how the Falashas of Ethiopia were ransomed from a latter-day pharaoh.

A century and a half ago, British missionaries reported that they had come across a curious spectacle in the high plateau country of northern Ethiopia: an isolated black tribe whose people kept kosher, observed Levitican constraints about menstruation and circumcision, and in every other possible way were observant Jews. Removed from their fellow Jews for hundreds of years, these Falashas (the name means “stranger” in Amharic) nonetheless harbored dreams of returning to Israel. Enter debut author Naim, Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia in 1990, the year that what would come to be called Operation Solomon occurred. Having arranged the similar ransom of Soviet Jews via Finland, Naim now faced the considerable resistance of Ethiopian dictator Megistu Miriam, who reminded Naim (with some reason) that every Ethiopian had cause to clamor for return to Israel, inasmuch as every Ethiopian was a Jew before converting to Christianity way back in the fourth century. (“He’s a stupid man,” Naim remarked of Mengistu to a colleague. “How did he come to power?” Replied the colleague, “He killed everyone who was in his way.”) American Jews raised $35 million in only three days, Israel made several political concessions, and Naim secured the release of the Falashas from Ethiopia. But the Falashas encountered unforeseen difficulties with integrating into Israeli society, in particular scarcely concealed hostility on the part of the right wing and a general fear of contamination by AIDS or tuberculosis. So chilly was the reception that many older Falashas wanted to return to Ethiopia, jeopardizing Naim’s work—and his carefully constructed argument before the United Nations that the Falashas’ case should “erase the hideous UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.” For all the problems, however, he still views Operation Solomon as a success.

Effectively argued, though the reader may pause to wonder how the Falashas are doing today.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-45081-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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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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