A lucid compilation of 39 essays by Said (Comparative Literature/Columbia), the most eloquent spokesperson for the Palestinian cause in the Western world since the Arab defeat in the 1967 war against Israel. Said (Culture and Imperialism, 1993, etc.) adds an introduction and final chapter to these essays, which have appeared over the past 25 years in publications ranging from the Village Voice and the London Review of Books to the Journal of Palestine Studies. The essays are critical not only of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, but also of the Arab world's indifference to the Palestinians' plight. American intervention — and sometimes the lack of same — is also criticized. Contending that the Palestinians are a people with their own history, culture, and right to self-determination, Said portrays them as victims of an Israeli occupation, "a cruel thing, a further injustice done to a people deprived of all rights." He depicts Israel as a nation of Holocaust survivors "with a tragic history of genocide and persecution" who are largely insensitive to the rights of the people they displaced. When Said compares the Israeli occupation of the West Bank to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he lapses from impassioned criticism into outright propaganda. He is equally harsh on the Arab world's repressive and destructive tyrants and decries Arab states for not supporting the intifada, which he sees as a genuine manifestation of Palestinian self-determination. Islamic fundamentalism is glibly dismissed by the secular (and Christian) Said, who envisions a democratic Palestinian state. That "neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have a military option against each other and that both people must learn to live in peace" is Said's major thesis. Disappointed by Arafat and Rabin's recent Oslo agreement, which he claims ignores the vast Palestinian diaspora, Said sees no resolution in sight. A highly charged and eminently readable critique of a sandstorm in the world's eye.

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0679761454

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1994

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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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