THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

In this polemical essay, Edward Said, a Columbia professor and member of the Palestinian National Council, presents the Palestinian case to the American public—a follow-up to his general attack on the field of Middle East studies in Orientalism (1979). Charging inadequate coverage and media recognition as well as misrepresentation, Said—at times eloquent and erudite, at times propagandistic and convoluted—stresses the lack of direct communication between the Palestinians and the West. Palestinians like himself, he believes, should remind the world that the Palestinians will not simply disappear and that their situation as a dispossessed people must be faced equally with the Jewish holocaust. As Zionism and Israeli occupation of the West Bank since 1967 have attempted to negate a Palestinian identity by ignoring or stultifying it, so, he writes, has the PLO resuscitated the "idea" of Palestine and created an infrastructure capable of unifying and educating Palestinians within and outside Israel. Expounding on the negative impact of Zionism (Western imperialism) on Arabs in Israel as opposed to its benefits for Jews, Said traces the origins of the Palestinian nationalist movement to the encounter with Zionism in the 1880s; dwells on the critical year 1948 when many left what became the state of Israel; emphasizes post-1967 events and the rise of an effective PLO which he claims represents all Palestinians; and ends with his vision of the future — notwithstanding Camp David and the Arab-Israeli treaty — a secular democratic state. (Its implications for Israeli sovereignty are not discussed.) By using and recommending only partisan documentation, however, and neglecting to provide evidence for a number of controversial interpretations (Palestinian "ejection from Israel; "unauthorized" Arab terrorism), Said limits the usefulness of his tract as a scholarly work; but the position had not heretofore been articulated at this elevated level.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 1979

ISBN: 0679739882

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Times Books

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1979

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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