Despite the obligatory optimistic coda, most readers of this lucid and enlightening yet discouraging insight into America’s...

HOW WE FIGHT

CRUSADES, QUAGMIRES, AND THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR

Provocative analysis of why Americans love some wars and hate others.

Nearly everyone considers the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires, writes Tierney (Political Science/Swarthmore Coll.; FDR and the Spanish Civil War: Neutrality and Commitment in the Struggle that Divided America, 2007, etc.), yet both began with widespread support. This is predictable, he argues. The Founding Fathers proclaimed America the hope of the world, and since then we take for granted that all sensible people yearn for our freedom. This sense of mission carries over to wars which become righteous crusades such as the Civil War and two world wars. Crusades work against organized governments, but not where central authority is feeble, and we often take up “nation building”—fighting to establish a stable state, often against local opposition. With no Satan to vanquish (whether Hitler or Hussein), we lose patience, an attitude made worse by leaders—from McKinley to Bush II—who invariably declare that these newly liberated people are eager to love their neighbors and hold elections. Tierney points to the American efforts in Kosovo as a success. In fact, many interventions labeled fiascos (Lebanon, Somalia) saved thousands of lives. Our wildly mishandled quagmire in Iraq is winding down with modest success, and Afghanistan is more prosperous and free than in 2001 despite the growing feeling that honest government is a forlorn hope. Absence of anarchy and mass murder—not free elections—is a reasonable goal for nations with no tradition of good government; even this modest achievement requires more tolerance for frustration than most Americans possess.

Despite the obligatory optimistic coda, most readers of this lucid and enlightening yet discouraging insight into America’s impatience with nation building will not feel encouraged.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-04515-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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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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