An important study for understanding the roots of current tensions.




A scholarly exploration of the long-running rivalry between the two Arab oil juggernauts and their proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Eminent historian and prolific author Hiro (The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan, 2015, etc.), who has written many books on Middle Eastern issues, focuses on a pertinent crucible of roiling tension in the region that is causing an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries. The historic rivalry between Iran, the Shia stronghold backing rebels loyal to Yemen’s Houthis rebels, and Saudi Arabia, bolstering Yemen’s weakened Sunni government, resulted in Saudi-led bombing of civilian targets and widespread famine. The newly open animus between Tehran and Riyadh, encompassing raw issues such as the Syrian Civil War, Iran’s nuclear program, and the penalizing of Qatar (and Turkey) for its close ties with Iran, came largely at the behest of the newly ascended Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. The young, impulsive, and evidently ruthless crown prince is now vilified globally (except by Donald Trump) for his alleged role in organizing and sanctioning the egregious murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. (Unfortunately, this game-changing event does not appear in this version of the book, though the author has written about it in other publications; hopefully, the paperback will include further information regarding Khashoggi.) Still, Hiro clearly explains the historic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, much of which stems from each country’s respective “claims to exceptionalism”: Iran and its ancient Persian culture and language, and Saudi Arabia’s apotheosis in the 18th century with the Al Saud dynasty, stewardship of “the two most sacred sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina,” and possessor of the world’s second largest “underground sea of petroleum” (after Venezuela).

An important study for understanding the roots of current tensions.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-19-094465-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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