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 19, 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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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