An illuminating work that offers new understanding to the troubled history of this key geopolitical region.




Rogan (Modern History of the Middle East/St. Antony’s Coll., Oxford Univ.; The Arabs: A History, 2009, etc.) corrects Western assumptions about the “sick man of Europe.”

In this well-researched, evenhanded treatment of the Ottomans’ role in World War I, especially in its assessment of the Armenian genocide of 1918, the author delineates the urgent internal and external causes spurring the crumbling Turkish empire to seek a defensive alliance with Germany and counter Britain, France and Russia when war broke out in 1914. The coalition of fiery Young Turks had risen against the aging autocratic sultan and demanded a restoration of the constitution in 1908, but during the tumult, they allowed Turkey’s European neighbors to annex more territory. Russia’s territorial ambitions were most feared, while Britain and France could not be trusted. The war became a “global call to arms” for all parties, with the Ottomans declaring a jihad in order to unite Muslims. Rogan walks through the “opening salvos” of the war, at Basra, Aden and Egypt, showing the vulnerability of the Ottoman defenses; yet the Ottomans showed enormous spirit and ingenuity against the Entente assault on the Dardanelles in February 1915. Rogan elucidates the Allied debacle at Gallipoli—although the lack of maps is frustrating—a reckless campaign he blames more on Lord Kitchener than on Winston Churchill and which provoked a government crisis back in Britain. The dire campaigns in Mesopotamia, Suez and Palestine were not a “sideshow” to be dismissed by the Allied planners in their hopes for a quick victory over a weak Ottoman Empire. Actually, they produced—through the Arab Revolt galvanized by T.E. Lawrence and the drafting of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration—an uneasy armistice and partition that promised to be deeply divisive for another century.

An illuminating work that offers new understanding to the troubled history of this key geopolitical region.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-02307-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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