An ultimately heart-wrenching personal account.



An as-told-to autobiography explores an Islamist marriage.

The pseudonymous Nadia grew up in rural Algeria, the eldest daughter of poor parents who were alternately loving and abusive. Her village community was religious enough—they observed Muslim practices, if not especially strictly. When Nadia was a teenager, she became smitten with a neighbor boy, Ahmed. Though her parents objected to the match—Ahmed was a bit of a rogue—eventually the lovebirds married. Ahmed, it turns out, wasn’t just a harmless scoundrel. In the months before he married Nadia, he had become a militant Islamist, and joined the Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, a terrorist organization determined to bring Islamist government to Algeria. Nadia tried to adjust to her husband’s Islamist zeal. Ahmed insisted that she cook meals for him and all of his comrades; complying required Nadia to spend literally every waking hour in the kitchen. Even once Nadia was pregnant, Ahmed pushed her to make sacrifices for the movement, working more and sleeping less. She contemplated disobeying him, but she knew that he would kill her without thinking twice. Eventually, Ahmed vanished and Nadia, fearful that the state police were hunting for her, fled her home. After giving birth and learning that Ahmed was dead, she made her way to an agency for victimized women and began to piece her life back together. Algerian journalist Gacemi interviewed Nadia in 1997, and shaped the interviews into this book, which was published in France in 1998. Occasionally, Gacemi’s penchant for breathless cliffhangers grows old: too many chapters end with dramatic sentences like “Saloua and Fatiha were later decapitated” or “I’ve paid dearly for it.” Nadia tells her story simply, offering little analysis. It is the very directness of the narrative that will push readers to consider both the appeal Islamism holds for some downtrodden women, and the way militant Islamism keeps women prisoners.

An ultimately heart-wrenching personal account.

Pub Date: June 20, 2006

ISBN: 0-8032-2204-1

Page Count: 159

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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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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