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Otten’s solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.

Harrowing history of an often overlooked, often targeted group in the ongoing struggle between Islamic State militants and other forces in the Middle East.

It is an irony of sorts that the Yezidis, who live in the Iraqi highlands in territory contested among Kurds, Arabs, and other actors, were safer during the regime of Saddam Hussein than in the years since the American invasion. Not that circumstances were ideal then; observes Otten, a British journalist who has been working in Kurdistan for the last few years, some Yezidi communities had been forcibly resettled during the Hussein years. But then came “economic meltdown under UN sanctions, the breakdown of the state and security after the US-led invasion of 2003, and political failures that followed,” onto which a long siege by the Islamic State group and the wholesale rape and enslavement of other communities layered additional injuries. As the author writes, the Yezidis are Islamist targets for religious reasons; the Islamic State “describes the Yezidis as pagans and devil worshippers who are not entitled to pay a tax and live in the caliphate,” less desirable even than Christians and scarcely human. By Otten’s account, the Yezidis have been fighting back, though they are not well-served by infighting among various Peshmerga and other anti–IS forces in Kurdistan, and they thus “remain unable to define their future militarily or politically, as many, if not most, would prefer.” The author’s careful account is based on significant on-the-ground reporting that often finds her in dangerous situations—e.g., hunched down on a rooftop with fighters trying to take back a Yezidi city from IS occupiers, in the field with young warriors, even children, who are not easily distinguished from the adults fighting all around them. Of some cause for optimism are the Yezidis’ efforts to reintegrate the women who were stolen away, one of whom meaningfully says, “even if we marry or fall in love there will still be this thing inside that is broken.”

Otten’s solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-682191-08-8

Page Count: 236

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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