A refreshingly nonpolemical work that walks through the benumbing stages of war and response to the present Islamic State...



A reasonable, step-by-step look back at the war on terror that aims to dispel misconceptions held by a younger generation.

A specialist in the study of terrorism who has worked with the CIA to track suicide bombers in Afghanistan, Williams (Islamic History/Univ. of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior Who Led U.S. Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime, 2013, etc.) finds his students’ ignorance about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars troubling. In this meticulous survey, he offers an “after action report” to help readers understand why the U.S. is (still) deeply mired in wars in three Middle East countries. From his previous works—e.g., on Uzbek Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who helped the Americans defeat the Taliban in 2001—the author has certainly immersed himself in the complicated ethnic makeup of Afghanistan (Williams provides a useful map of the major ethnic groups). He grasps the deep roots of the resentments in the region, from the ancient Sunni-Shiite split to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—and America’s pro-Israel position. One of the salient points the author hammers home as he tracks the beginning of the U.S. military presence in the region is that from 1991 to 1998, Saddam Hussein’s atomic bomb capability was essentially dismantled (despite his boasts), rendering George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction proclamations absolute “hype.” Moreover, there was no evidence that Osama bin Laden collaborated with Hussein, while only one “farsighted U.S. official,” former national security adviser Richard Clarke, was tracking the al-Qaida threat, especially after the 2000 sinking of the USS Cole. Williams also examines some of the persistent conspiracy theories about 9/11—e.g., that the attack was the work of “the Zionists.”

A refreshingly nonpolemical work that walks through the benumbing stages of war and response to the present Islamic State group problem.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8122-4867-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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