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

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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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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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