A superficial, unreliable profile of the PLO's often articulate, photogenic spokesperson during part of the Intifada, and particularly during the Madrid and Washington negotiations with Israel (199193). Victor, a novelist as well as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, maintains near the beginning of her book that Hanan Ashrawi ``was the one person who had made possible [Yasir] Arafat's presence'' on the White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993, when his famous ``handshake'' with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin took place. Not only does she not make a case for this extraordinary claim, but Victor demonstrates how, throughout most of 1993, the PLO leader kept Ashrawi ``in the dark'' about the secret Oslo negotiations. Her book also is riddled with the kind of errors that make one question her knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For example, Victor twice claims that the 1917 Balfour Declaration was issued in 1921; the second time, she asserts that it ``provided for two states, Israel and Palestine, to exist side by side.'' Nonsense: The declaration made no reference to any ``state,'' only to Great Britain supporting the establishment of a ``Jewish homeland'' in Palestine, which was soon to be a British mandate. Equally irritating are Victor's stylistic excesses, her use of the kind of hyperbolic prose found in ``puff'' pieces, such as her assertion that Ashrawi's ``razor-sharp responses captured world opinion every time that she faced a camera.'' Earlier this year, Ashrawi resigned from the PLO leadership to establish and head an independent Palestinian human rights monitoring group. It is this, not the media glitz she enjoyed as a PLO spokesperson, that may lend her career its real significance. Until we know whether and how Hanan Ashrawi will contribute to the humanitarian nature of a possible Palestinian state, any biography of her, particularly one as lacking in historical and biographical depth as Victor's, is premature.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-103968-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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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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