Sound, sober historical documentation.




A British historian presents a pointedly argued account of the relentless violence by both British and Jewish groups that brought about the end of British rule in Palestine.

Using the example of the abduction and murder of 16-year-old activist Alexander Rubowitz on May 6, 1947, Cesarani (History/Royal Holloway, Univ. of London; Becoming Eichmann, 2006, etc.) shows how British counterinsurgency measures not only failed to gain control of Jewish terrorist groups in Palestine in the mid-1940s, but essentially provoked such a violent backlash that the British recognized the game was up. Rubowitz, who was hanging posters in a neighborhood of Jerusalem for the terrorist group LEHI (aka the Stern Gang), was bundled into a car by men in civilian clothes, one of whom dropped a hat. When Rubowitz did not return home, the family broadcast his disappearance, and the hat was traced to former World War II war hero, now deputy superintendent of police, Major Roy Farran. There ensued feeble attempts at obfuscation and cover-up on the part of the British Army, who were apprised by Farran’s account and others involved that Rubowitz had been tortured to death and his body vanished. Although Farran was clearly implicated, he was allowed to elude justice even after his court martial, and he was later celebrated in England. Cesarani combs through the bloody history of the British in the region, the early Zionist movement and push for Jewish migration and the Jewish retaliation against British resistance to increased migration after WWII. In this dense but cogent work, the author demonstrates how the British “special squads” descended into criminality—and were matched in their militancy by Jewish groups such as the Irgun.

Sound, sober historical documentation.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-306-81845-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet