A valuable study of three decades of a defiant radical Islamic regime.

KHOMEINI’S GHOST

THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION AND THE RISE OF MILITANT ISLAM

Daily Telegraph executive foreign editor Coughlin (American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror, 2006, etc.) reports on the causes and effects of the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

The pivotal figure in the Revolution was Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, who returned to Tehran from a 15-year exile in Turkey, Iraq and France and galvanized a groundswell of dissatisfaction against the ruling Pahlavi dynasty. However, the populace did not fully comprehend the ayatollah’s intended agenda, which was the establishment of a theocracy based on Sharia (Islamic law). Coughlin emphasizes Khomeini’s careful concealment of the full thrust of his “religious dictatorship.” Within the first two weeks of taking power, Khomeini and his aides formed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which safeguarded internal affairs and effectively exported the revolution abroad. Coughlin asserts that Khomeini would “steal the revolution from beneath the noses of the very people who had brought him to power.” The ayatollah’s rise to prominence forms the bulk of this thorough work. Born in 1902 in the remote provinces, Ruhollah Musavi—ayatollahs took their hometown as their name—grew up in a time of enormous turbulence between the shah, controlled by foreign interests, and the constitutionalists. He demonstrated early promise as a student and jurist of Shia Islam, and was deeply resistant to the shah’s forced program of modernization. During his years as a teacher, Khomeini built his reputation as an Islamic authority and scholar. Coughlin skillfully traces Khomeini’s iron tentacles manipulating the disastrous war with Iraq, the establishment of the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon (which aided the emergence of Hizbollah) and the development of an international terrorist network. The author also pursues his haunting shadow over the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the proliferation of Iran’s nuclear program.

A valuable study of three decades of a defiant radical Islamic regime.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-168714-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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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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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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