An authoritative, sweeping, important history that shows how terrorism “is neither irrational nor desperate but instead...

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ANONYMOUS SOLDIERS

THE STRUGGLE FOR ISRAEL, 1917-1947

How Jewish terrorists defeated British rule.

Terrorism scholar Hoffman (Security Studies/Georgetown Univ.; Inside Terrorism, 2006, etc.) draws on British, Israeli and American archives, uncovering much new material, in this history of Zionists’ determination to oust the British from Palestine. Terrorism, carried out by two rival groups—Irgun and the more extreme Lehi—resulted, after 30 years of violence, in British withdrawal and the creation of Israel. Britain’s presence had been authorized by the Mandate of Palestine, a consequence of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. By 1929, despite improvements to infrastructure and standard of living, both Arabs and Jews were seething with resentment. “The situation was…like the Wild West,” one British commander remarked. And it worsened: In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis pressed for permission to immigrate, incensed over Britain’s quota; Arabs, threatened by an increase in population, formed marauding guerrilla bands. With British soldiers fighting the war, the police force was inadequate and demoralized. In 1938 alone, 5,708 terrorist incidents occurred. Of more than 90 protagonists in this teeming drama, Menachem Begin emerges as one of the most violent, the mastermind behind the horrific bombing of the King David Hotel in 1939. “We fight, therefore we are!” he exclaimed. British leaders, some openly anti-Semitic, vacillated as terrorists fulfilled their mission to make Palestine ungovernable. Never, a statesman said ruefully, would the region be a place “in which Jew and Arab would settle down together….” Winston Churchill, with considerable understatement, admitted that Britain’s Mandatory administration had been “a thankless, painful, costly, laborious, inconvenient task.” Hoffman concludes that the “rise of Israel was the product of many powerful forces in addition to terrorism.” But the Irgun’s success, he chillingly notes, laid the groundwork for today’s globalized terrorism.

An authoritative, sweeping, important history that shows how terrorism “is neither irrational nor desperate but instead entirely rational and often carefully calculated and choreographed.”

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0307594716

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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