An excellent argument for the necessity of careful sifting of historical precedent and error.




A keen-eyed, sweeping survey of the depressingly familiar erroneous U.S. policy in the Middle East since the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

Wawro (Military History/Univ. of North Texas; The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871, 2003, etc.) asks some pointed questions about American policy in the Middle East, as he pursues these debacles chronologically, from the ignoring of Palestinian demands in the creation of Israel and being blind-sided by Cold War paranoia, to growing entanglement in nasty conflicts such as the Suez Crisis, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War and Operation Desert Storm. “Did we attempt to repair the damage done by European imperialism, or merely settle into the wreckage in our own American way?” he asks. American support of Israel even in the face of outrageous aggression caused persistent snares in U.S.-Middle East relations for the next 50 years, creating Arab resentment, feeding nationalism and reorganizing the balance of power in the region. After the Suez Crisis, Britain and France were out, the U.S. and Soviet Union were in, and the so-called Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957, pledging $200 million to combat communism in the region, prevailed. Nixon continually grappled with the Soviet threat to control Middle East oil sources via Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. With the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq saw its opportunity, and the internal combustions reverberated in the form of jihad, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to New York City. At this point American influence was in tatters. In addition to providing a thorough history of the region, Wawro pays close attention to the hotheaded reflexes of George W. Bush and his “Vulcans,” who “pushed ahead without even a nod to those important debates that had flared through the White House forty-five years earlier.”

An excellent argument for the necessity of careful sifting of historical precedent and error.

Pub Date: April 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59420-241-4

Page Count: 680

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet