CHASING UTOPIA

THE FUTURE OF THE KIBBUTZ IN A DIVIDED ISRAEL

An eye-opening look at an Eden of eco-villages gradually giving way to economic exigencies.

A personal journey back to the kibbutz of the author’s youth prompts an examination of the larger reasons for the Israeli disenchantment with the pioneering enterprise.

In 1988, suffering a broken heart and at odds about what to do with his life, Canadian journalist Leach (Journalism and Creative Nonfiction/Univ. of Victoria, BC; Fatal Tide: When the Race of a Lifetime Goes Wrong, 2008, etc.), who is not Jewish, ventured to Israel to work on a kibbutz to experience communal living and hard farm labor. He ended up at the Shamir kibbutz and stayed for eight months as a volunteer in a commune of 500 people, working for his room and board and laboring at various tasks in the kitchen and on the grounds. Upon his return to Israel 20 years later, now a middle-aged father with children, Leach found enormous changes—not only to Shamir, which had embraced privatization in the mid-2000s and listed its Optical Industry on NASDAQ, but the whole kibbutz (“gathering”) system, largely privatized out of economic necessity. Since the establishment of the first kibbutz in the early 1900s, the grass-roots experiment has been envisioned as a “collective paradise for an evolved human species,” a utopian vision of absolute equality derived from ideals by Leo Tolstoy and first implemented by Zionist philosopher Aaron David Gordon. Although Gordon believed that Jewish immigrants could live peaceably with their Arab neighbors, as Leach learned, many kibbutzim were built on land confiscated from the Arabs with the establishment of Israel in 1948. Moreover, from Shamir to other kibbutzim Leach visited across the country, the communes had moved from “hard socialism to soft capitalism” with the advent of the Likud Party in 1977. Leach’s report is both affectingly personal, delving into many intimate stories of visionaries, and a sound historical study.

An eye-opening look at an Eden of eco-villages gradually giving way to economic exigencies.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77041-340-5

Page Count: 344

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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