The well-rendered, lucid back story explaining the current, ongoing deep distrust and suspicion between the U.S. and Iran.

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THE COUP

1953, THE CIA, AND THE ROOTS OF MODERN U.S.-IRANIAN RELATIONS

A relevant, readable study of the foreign-engineered 1953 Iranian coup reminds us of the cause that won’t go away: oil.

Abrahamian (Iranian and Middle Eastern History and Politics/City Univ. of New York; A Modern History of Iran, 2008, etc.) clears away much of the nostalgic Cold War cobwebs surrounding the ouster of the popular Iranian reformer Muhammad Mossadeq, employing new oral history and pertinent memoirs published posthumously by Mossadeq’s advisers. Despite the lively spin put to the coup immediately and effectively by the Americans as a kind of spontaneous uprising against Mossadeq by people fearing his communist proclivities, his ability to pass oil nationalization by the democratically elected Iranian Parliament over the head of the Reza Shah had prompted the U.S. and Britain to panic. With an even, firm hand, Abrahamian revisits the early grab for oil in Iran by the British at the turn of the century. Eventually, the grievances against the British masters began stacking up, as they continued to practice massive ecological damage and frank discrimination against the Iranian workers, prompting strikes and intense anti-imperialist sentiment. The author treats Mossadeq’s rise to power as an organic nationalist reaction. From an old patrician Iranian family, a law scholar and reformist intellectual, he gained popular trust by his sympathy to the constitutional cause. Elected to the premiership by wild acclaim, Mossadeq quietly but firmly passed oil nationalization in 1951; Anglo-Iranian negotiations broke down, and the British and Americans engaged in subversive propaganda tactics such as casting aspersions on the Iranian character and leader. Abrahamian walks us chillingly through the July uprising and subsequent careful CIA-MI6 machinations.

The well-rendered, lucid back story explaining the current, ongoing deep distrust and suspicion between the U.S. and Iran.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59558-826-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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