A deliberative academic work that rises above hackneyed arguments with significant research and a great deal of heart.

WE STAND DIVIDED

THE RIFT BETWEEN AMERICAN JEWS AND ISRAEL

A winner of the National Jewish Book Award urges a thoughtful reconciliation between Israelis and American Jews for the future of all Jews.

Gordis (Senior Vice President/Shalem Coll.; Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, 2016, etc.) takes up a much-used but apt simile that the relationship between the Israelis and the American Jews is like a troubled marriage: What should be done? Should they split, get counseling, or separate? As the author writes, “the American and Israeli Jewish communities total more than 85 percent of the Jewish world and are therefore likely to be the communities that determine the course of Jewish history.” Surveying the landscape, the author, a lucid guide to this contentious topic, concludes that “the crux of the problem between the communities is not what Israel does, but what Israel is.” American Jews freely criticize Israel and its strong-armed policies toward the Palestinians, but Israelis often believe that Americans—comfortable and not constantly faced with security threats—have no idea what it means to live surrounded by hostile countries. Gordis argues that the intense love affair of American Jews with Israel buckled in 1982, when Israeli military perpetrated massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila, leaving American Jews “humiliated and shamed by the country to which they had once pointed with pride.” This was a turning point. Yet the author also concisely highlights ongoing fundamental tension points between the two countries, including the Zionist dream that Jews can be the active agents in their story rather than passive victims. The sticking point of religion (“Who and What are the Jews?”) is another point of contention, as American Jews tend to be non-Orthodox in opposition to the enormous power of the right-wing Orthodox element in Israel, who define identity as well as the role of the Hebrew language, which most Americans do not speak.

A deliberative academic work that rises above hackneyed arguments with significant research and a great deal of heart.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287369-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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