Richly told in broad, cinematic strokes, this is catnip for readers who enjoy special-ops tales.




A marvelously engrossing account of the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, from associate editor of The Counter Terrorist Pfarrer (Warrior Soul, 2004, etc.).

The author is a former assault commander of SEAL Team Six, which gave him a decided upper hand when collecting material for his story: As a brother in arms, he was able to talk to team members. It is a decidedly different picture than other high-profile accounts, such as the recent New Yorker article. Before he gets to northern Pakistan, however, Pfarrer has a number of other stories to tell. First is a history of the Navy SEALs, with emphasis on Team Six, “the smallest and most elite special operations unit in the world.” He covers their training, equipment and operations they have led in Beirut, Grenada, Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia and, perhaps the most fleshed-out operational description included here, the rescue of an American sea captain from Somali pirates. Seeking a broader context, Pfarrer delves into the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and produces a pocket biography of bin Laden, which in turn informs his history of al-Qaeda and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who played bin Laden like a puppet to get at his money. “Zawahiri needed capital,” writes the author, “and Osama needed intellectual and religious justification for a global campaign of violence.” Pfarrer points to Zawahiri as the likely source who ratted out bin Laden, and many others, to gain control of the organization’s treasure box. Though the author’s line of thought on al-Qaeda’s access and deployment of weaponry is not always easy to follow, his writing is consistently informed, with a crunchy texture that belies its sub-surface polish.

Richly told in broad, cinematic strokes, this is catnip for readers who enjoy special-ops tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-250-00635-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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


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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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

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