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

COUNTER JIHAD

AMERICA'S MILITARY EXPERIENCE IN AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, AND SYRIA

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

more