Always controversial, but worthwhile for those who follow current events—and those who wish for peace in Palestine.



A gathering of recent, polemical pieces on the Middle East by the late literary scholar, pinning most of the blame for the troubles on Israel, but assigning some to the PLO.

Said (Reflections on Exile, 2001, etc.), who died in September 2003, had no use for Yasir Arafat, whom he considers to have engineered “the initial Palestinian surrender at Oslo”—that is, the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. “We need a new kind of leadership,” Said thunders early in on in this collection of his opinion pieces for Arabic-language newspapers, “one that can mobilize and inspire the whole Palestinian nation; we have had enough . . . of lies and misleading rhetoric, enough of corruption and rank incompetence.” He had still less truck with Israel, which he portrays as an occupying power on a moral par with the Third Reich; at least, he suggests, the powerlessness of Palestinians today is the powerlessness of the Jews of Europe at the height of Hitler’s reign. The equation is characteristic of the early, pre-9/11 pieces here, which ring with righteous indignation taken to the point of propaganda: “We need a united leadership to make decisions, not simply to grovel before the pope and the moronic George W. Bush, even as the Israelis are killing [Arafat’s] heroic people with impunity. . . . The struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation is where every Palestinian worth anything now stands.” Said’s post-9/11 journalism tends to be more moderate, as if to distance the Palestinian cause from that of Osama bin Laden, for whom he shows little sympathy. His views on the folly of the unfolding American adventure in Iraq (“a hugely weakened and subpar Third World state ruled by a hated despotic regime: there is no disagreement about that anywhere, least of all in the Arab and Islamic world”) seem particularly prescient in the light of recent events.

Always controversial, but worthwhile for those who follow current events—and those who wish for peace in Palestine.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-42287-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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