An exhaustively researched account that will find its most extensive readership in the academic and diplomatic communities.

SHADOW WARS

THE SECRET STRUGGLE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

Scholarly study of the reactionary counterterrorism patterns established for centuries—e.g., the Jacobite risings of 1688; the Thermidorian reaction to the French Revolution, etc.—now driving the Western reaction to jihadi terror.

After the somewhat ponderous introduction, which offers a history of counterterrorism that concludes with the West’s heavy-handed challenge to the rise of Arab nationalism in the 1950s and ’60s, British historian Davidson (Middle East Politics/Durham Univ.; After the Sheikhs: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies, 2013, etc.) plunges into America’s move to center stage and how it has sustained its ravenous postwar economy by preserving access to crude oil imports at any cost. The U.S. inherited the “old Western order” from the debilitated English and French, and keeping order often meant covert meddling, such as in maintaining the pro-Western shah of Iran on his throne during revolution in 1953 and bolstering Iraq’s Baath regime as a “modernizing, even democratizing, anti-communist movement.” The American goal during the Cold War era was typically anti-nationalistic and anti-communist, and with those attitudes came extensive arms trades, such as with Iran and Saudi Arabia, and an influx of mercenaries. Indeed, this pattern, as the author judiciously, thoroughly exposes, has repeated itself through the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to today’s challenge with the Arab Spring. On one hand, this recent movement offers new hope to the masses of beleaguered Arabs yet, on the other, represents “a significant threat to almost half a century of protected status quo.” Davidson is especially dogged at “following the money”—e.g., the rise of crony-capitalist networks in the Gulf monarchies and the financing of al-Qaida and of the new Islamic State group. Moreover, the Iran nuclear deal has allowed a rush of access to that country’s markets, while the “business of evil”—i.e., facing down the IS “bogeyman”—has proven to be an “arms industry bonanza” across the globe.

An exhaustively researched account that will find its most extensive readership in the academic and diplomatic communities.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78607-001-2

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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...

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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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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