A victim's damning, if querulously overstated, case against the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC), which, in its pursuit of Iran-contra malefactors, seems to be as concerned with scalps as with justice. Brimming with resentment, Abrams offers a one-sided first- person version of his bruising encounter with the OIC. Appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs in 1985, Abrams became heir to a number of ongoing initiatives, one of which involved toppling Nicaragua's Sandinistas. He left office with the Reagan Administration and heard nothing from Lawrence Walsh (head of the OIC) or his subordinates until the summer of 1991, a few months before the statute of limitations would have precluded any indictments. In the meantime, the convictions of high-profile principals like Oliver North had been reversed on appeal, and, Abrams argues, the heat was on the OIC to justify its existence. Special prosecutors eventually apprised the author that they could charge him with a welter of felonies. Caught on some inconsistencies in his testimony to Congress and faced with the prospect of a seven-figure legal-defense bill, Abrams decided to plead guilty to a couple of misdemeanors that amounted to withholding information from lawmakers (e.g., on a $10-million contribution from the Sultan of Brunei that never reached the contras). In recounting his ordeal, Abrams makes some valid points- -notably on the OIC's lack of accountability, its predilection for encouraging lower-echelon targets to rat out their superiors, and its Kafkaesque capacity to criminalize policy/political differences between the executive and legislative branches of government—but he does so with an air of injured, ``why-me?'' innocence that promises to irritate his supporters and to confirm the suspicions of partisan adversaries. While there's no question that Abrams suffered much at the heavy hands of the OIC, his cause is not well served with vintage whine.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-900167-6

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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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