A thorough, proficient overview that quietly hums a pro-Jewish tune.




A history of the Jewish founding of Israel told through eyewitness accounts of both Arabs and Jews.

By beginning with the ancient story of the defense of Masada against the Roman onslaught in 66 C.E., U.S. Department of Defense intelligence analyst Gartman signals an emphasis on Israel’s ongoing vulnerability to attack by hostile outside forces. The idealism of the first migrants to Zion—those on the margins of Russian society, the Pale of Settlement, who were fleeing the pogroms of the 1880s—was tempered by the reality of the situation in Palestine: poor land for farming, Bedouin raids, malaria, dysentery, typhus, and back-breaking labor by shtetl Jews who had never done such manual labor. Theodor Herzl’s Zionist movement (aided by more pogroms) prompted waves of Jewish immigration that upset the entrenched Arab population, who believed the land belonged to them. Gartman traces how the delicate balance of power began to shift toward the Jews, especially with the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. The author employs extended extracts from documents by contemporary observers—e.g., an account by Khalil al-Sakakini, “one of the Arabs’ leading intellectuals,” of the riots that broke out between the Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem on April 4, 1920, and an early chronicle by Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion, who insisted that the Jews “were neither desirous nor capable of building our future in Palestine at the expense of the Arabs.” The ramifications of the Holocaust and Arab intransigence deepened the chasm between the two Palestinian neighbors, which, despite war upon war (delineated chapter by chapter), has not yet been settled. While Gartman does not bring new material to this work, he offers a tidy, compelling presentation and comprehensive documentation for a solid study.

A thorough, proficient overview that quietly hums a pro-Jewish tune.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8276-1253-2

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Jewish Publication Society

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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