THE CONTROVERSY OF ZION

JEWISH NATIONALISM, THE JEWISH STATE, AND THE UNRESOLVED JEWISH DILEMMA

An eloquent, thorough, and thought-provoking record of that century-old tempest called Zionism. British historian Wheatcroft (The Randlords, 1986) admirably covers one hundred years of political, social, cultural, and personal controversy, from Theodore Herzl to Yigal Amir, providing a superior study of Jewish history. As an objective outsider, the author effectively compares the issues of Jewish nationalism with the Irish question. Only a non-Jewish historian might marvel, as Wheatcroft does, at the depth of Jewish self-deprecation and paranoia that continues to inform the relationship between diaspora Jews and Zionism. ``Each hyphenate [American immigrant group] took an interest in its own people across the sea—and each for that matter was open to the accusation of dual loyalty,'' so ``why should the Jewish Americans feel bashful?'' While Central European Jews spearheaded political Zionism and Eastern European Jews did most of the emigrating, Wheatcroft assigns a pivotal role to American Jews, whose healthier egos and checkbooks made the Zionist experiment possible. The author offers personal glimpses into the key players of the Zionist drama while also providing significant philosophical overviews. We are shown, for instance, how both nationalists (Heine) and universalists (Marx) of the 19th century were too assimilationist to support the Zionist cause. Singleminded militant Zionists like Jabotinsky are contrasted with critics of the movement, like Arendt, Buber, and Einstein, with most representatives of the spectrum of debate placed in the context of their geographic and historical circumstances. While concluding that the Zionist endeavor has been an unprecedented success, Wheatcroft suggests that problems with Israel's Arab and religious Jewish minorities may take up the next hundred years. Like most Jewish historians, Wheatcroft vastly underrates the role of Judaism in Zionism, yet this book offers valuable historical and psychological insights into what it means to be a Zionist or a Jew.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-201-56234-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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