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ARIK

THE LIFE OF ARIEL SHARON

Splendid reporting, comprehensive research and probing analysis inform this unblinking view of a complicated man and a...

Economist Israel correspondent and former Haaretz editor in chief Landau (Piety and Power: The World of Jewish Fundamentalism, 1992, etc.) offers a thorough, extremely candid description and assessment of the military and political lives of the controversial Sharon, who has been in a vegetative state since a massive stroke in 2006.

The author, who has also collaborated with Shimon Peres on his memoir (Battling for Peace, 1995) and on a biography of David Ben-Gurion (2012), displays a deep familiarity with the details and contexts of Sharon’s career. Throughout, he prepares us for the stroke in 2006: He calls Sharon “corpulent” in the preface, titles the first chapter “Poor Little Fat Boy” and describes Sharon’s considerable appetite and girth. The early chapters are full of military lore. Landau describes battles and strategy in great detail, clearly examining Sharon’s roles and unafraid to judge. He mentions, for example, a “heinous act of violence” involving some Bedouin in 1972. The author continues to hold Sharon’s feet to the fire right to very end, suggesting things the fallen leader might have accomplished had he been less, well, Sharon-ian. Landau is also adept in the descriptions of the labyrinthine political world of Israel during Sharon’s era. We see, as well, his questionable financial dealings (prosecutors took hard looks at his behavior more than once), his gifts as a politician and his failures as a human being. The author does not focus so much on his personal life, though we learn about the accidental death of his son and his wife’s succumbing to cancer. We also see the softening, leftish moves he made late in his career—moves that pleased many and infuriated others—especially the decision to close 21 settlements in Gaza in 2005.

Splendid reporting, comprehensive research and probing analysis inform this unblinking view of a complicated man and a sanguinary geography.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4241-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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