A fine depiction of the multifaceted context of this cause célèbre.

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OPERATION EXODUS

FROM THE NAZI DEATH CAMPS TO THE PROMISED LAND: A PERILOUS JOURNEY THAT SHAPED ISRAEL'S FATE

The exciting story of the Exodus ship that in 1947 ferried 4,500 Jewish war refugees to the Zionist homeland.

Despite the urgent need for relocating concentration-camp survivors and displaced persons (DP) at the end of World War II, Britain refused to allow more than 1,500 immigrants per month to Palestine. The Jewish underground army, the Haganah, secured the boats necessary for transporting waves of refugees to Palestine, such as the large Chesapeake steamer, President Warfield. Veteran popular historian Thomas (Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6, 2009, etc.) moves swiftly from one scene to the other to keep his suspenseful story percolating, using a wealth of information gleaned from official archives, news reports, public records, British intelligence documents and interviews with passengers. The author paints a complete portrait of a variety of settings: within the Haganah headquarters in Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street, as well as its outposts in New York, including the basement of the Copacabana nightclub, called the Kibbutz Fourteen, where Zionist leaders like Golda Meir stayed; DP camps across Europe; and the office of the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin as he coordinated naval resistance to the “smuggling of illegal immigrants” into Palestine. Thomas looks at the outfitting of the President Warfield by U.S. volunteers, its refitting and slow odyssey in May 1947 from Baltimore harbor to Marseilles, where thousands of refugees at nearby DP camps were ready to board the ship built for holding 400 passengers—all the while tracked by British intelligence. The author then recounts the harrowing trip from July through September, as the now-christened Exodus 1947 was rammed by British destroyers and forcibly boarded, then detoured back to France and Germany before the refugees were finally allowed into Palestine almost a year later.

A fine depiction of the multifaceted context of this cause célèbre.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-56993-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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