Necessary, if painstaking, reading for anyone interested in the contemporary history of two “rogue” states.




A blow-by-blow account of how two wars have affected the fortunes of two nations.

Drawing on myriad sources, from newspapers to interviews, Hiro (Desert Shield to Desert Storm, not reviewed) presents a good primer on contemporary Iraqi and Iranian history. Both Gulf Wars—the first (1980–88) between Iraq and Iran, the second (1991) between Iraq and a coalition of forces headed by the US—led to divergent consolidations of power. In Iraq, after both wars, Saddam Hussein tightened his control. In Iran, the first war solidified the Islamic revolution in giving the Iranian people a common enemy, while the second provided oxygen to a moderate movement that led to the election of current President Muhammad Khatami in 1997. The author devotes much time to Hussein’s takeover of the Baath party apparatus, his build-up of the Republican Guard, and his control of the intelligence and security services, which have enabled him to keep a thumb on his would-be challengers and US spies. He gives a pretty clear diagram of Iran’s numerous religious and non-religious government bodies (which are currently wrestling with each other over social and economic reforms), and documents how the US (under Presidents Bush and Clinton) sought to isolate both Iraq and Iran economically and diplomatically—despite significant differences between the police-state government of the former and the vibrant, partially democratic culture of the latter. He argues that Bush chose to leave Hussein in power so as not to allow Iran to profit from his demise, and that Clinton cynically bombed Iraq to halt impeachment proceedings then being raised against him in Congress. Unfortunately, Hiro never directly synthesizes this material, and his account is divided in half—with each country dealt with separately in its own section. Indeed, each section could have been its own historical monograph.

Necessary, if painstaking, reading for anyone interested in the contemporary history of two “rogue” states.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2001

ISBN: 0-415-25412-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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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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