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




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...


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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