A heartfelt synthesis of a coming-of-age story, a political jeremiad, a memoir, and a manifesto.

A leftist Israeli activist delivers a singular sermon explaining what needs urgent repair in the Jewish democracy.

Burg (The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise from Its Ashes, 2008, etc.), once the speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and a past leader of the World Zionist Federation and the Jewish Agency for Israel, has renounced politics. His father, a political leader of the founding generation, was a religious Zionist. The author took a more liberal course, discarding religious orthodoxy. He describes himself as a “Protestant Jew.” Eventually, Burg became disillusioned with the Labor Party in whose government he served. He could not abide the perceived deceit, abuse, and lies that are endemic to governing. Israel started to go wrong, he asserts, with victory in the Six-Day War. He was 12 then and a student at a yeshiva. His revered father, in his government post, did not thwart settlements in Palestinian territory. Matters became worse after the Yom Kippur War, and then came the carnage, much of it sponsored by Ariel Sharon. It is clear to Burg that Israel lost its way; like him, he argues, the nation must become more cosmopolitan. He feels as at home in Vienna as he does in Jerusalem. To him, a “European Jew,” fellow Jews are not just Israelis. Now in his 60s, Burg’s youthful idealism remains unabated, and he urges separation of church and state. To solve the land’s most pressing dilemma, he envisions two states in a sort of confederation, one that will be a source of amity and attract other nation-states. Integration, not separation! Thus, the author proposes difficult, even frighteningly dangerous courses of action, and he will surely be called a dreamer and a false prophet by many opponents. But what, he might reply, are the better paths?

A heartfelt synthesis of a coming-of-age story, a political jeremiad, a memoir, and a manifesto.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56858-978-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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