Though tedious—and aptly so—Ross’s study does much to explain why the Oslo Accords have never taken. In this respect alone,...




Why can’t Palestinians and Israelis just get along?

The answer, writes US diplomat Ross, has as much to do with timing as with any particularly felt enmity. When the Israelis are ready to deal, their neighbors are not and vice versa, so that “after the 1967 war Israel was ready to return nearly all the captured territories for peace, but the Arabs, guided by Nasser’s ‘three no’s,’ were not ready to accept Israel, much less negotiate with it.” Ross adds that the poor timing has not been helped by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, who is incapable of making any lasting peace with Israel—mostly, Ross suggests, because of Arafat’s unwillingness to transform himself from revolutionary boss to statesman. Ross tracks efforts on both sides over a ten-year period in which he was active, as a negotiator and go-between, at nearly every level of deal-making: running secret letters back and forth between Tel Aviv and Damascus, assuring Egypt of Israeli’s not-harmful, if not good, intentions, watching as carefully structured face-saving situations devolve into fracases and squabbles. The narrative is painfully slow at times, but not through any fault of Ross’s; the events themselves moved so tortuously as the affected parties came together (always unwillingly) for confabs and cajoling, then moved apart, then—sometimes—returned for more talking. Occasionally, Ross finds a revealing chink in the stoic armor his protagonists wear, as when he finds Arafat and his assembled lieutenants absorbed in an episode of the American TV sitcom The Golden Girls, “rich in Jewish humor.” Mostly, though, he finds politicians on both sides of the divide deeply mistrustful not only of each other, but also of the men and women on the street in their own countries; as Syrian leader Asad remarks, for instance, “If we exert efforts and [Israeli troops in Lebanon] don’t stop shooting, then the [Hezbollah] resistance will turn their guns on us.”

Though tedious—and aptly so—Ross’s study does much to explain why the Oslo Accords have never taken. In this respect alone, it’s an important addition to the literature of the Middle East conflict.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-19973-6

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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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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