Mechanics aside, an important eyewitness testimony.




An urgent, in-the-trenches report on the dire humanitarian crisis in U.S.-occupied Iraq by a freelance Alaskan journalist.

Jamail’s time in war-torn Iraq began in November 2003, seven months after the U.S. invasion, when the author—who had previously worked as a mountain guide on Mt. McKinley while also doing social work and freelance writing—arrived from Amman, Jordan, into ravaged Baghdad to see for himself what was going on. Jamail was not an “embedded” journalist—that is, one tied to the Pentagon-sponsored “embed” program—but he aimed to “look for stories of real life and ‘embed’ myself with the Iraqi people.” He stayed nine weeks, but returned to Iraq in April of the next year. Through various journalist connections, he secured drivers to take him around the desperate city, from hospitals, where he viewed the grisly carnage from car bombings, American snipers and shootouts with resistance fighters; to Samarra, after an ambush on American soldiers; to entrée into civilians’ homes to hear the truth about American military aggression and the lack of basic human services, such as water, medicine, electricity and gasoline. In the course of his travels, he was constantly confronted with angry Iraqis who were stunned by American brutality as well as their lack of compassion and respect for human dignity. Jamail was continually reminded of suicide bombs and the fear of being kidnapped, and he observed daily the deterioration of conditions and ached for the people’s general lack of health and freedom. Shortly after his return, he witnessed the worst resistance fighting around Fallujah as the Americans retaliated against the murder of four Blackwater mercenaries. While the author provides many significant, eye-opening observations, the prose is pedestrian, and he offers scant historical context.

Mechanics aside, an important eyewitness testimony.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-931859-47-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Haymarket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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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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