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

CHASING UTOPIA

THE FUTURE OF THE KIBBUTZ IN A DIVIDED ISRAEL

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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