Informational rather than didactic, Gul’s insider take will serve as an excellent resource.

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THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE

PAKISTAN’S LAWLESS FRONTIER

In his first U.S. publication, Pakistani journalist Gul tracks the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents into the mountainous tribal regions to investigate the tangle of perilous allegiances.

The destabilized Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is constantly in the news as the Obama administration attempts to flush out the militants using the area as a base to train soldiers and launch terrorist attacks. In a dense, timely study, the author investigates the complicated makeup of these groups. The autonomous tribal areas were mostly ignored until they became “staging posts” for mujahideen attacks against the Russian invaders of Afghanistan in 1979 and the early ’80s, organized by the CIA and Pakistan’s military arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). After the Russians pulled out in 1989, the United States lost interest in the area, leaving the smugglers to conduct “business as usual,” until 9/11 sent the al-Qaeda militants from Afghanistan into areas of North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. (The two maps at the beginning of the book are helpful.) As American attacks increased in fury, the organization of the fighters similarly coalesced and allegiances grew even murkier, with Pakistan’s leadership unable, or unwilling, to “plug the border to Al Qaeda and the Taliban,” and U.S.-Pakistan relations becoming increasingly fraught with suspicion. Gul dissects the various terrorist “agencies” in these areas and their assaults, culminating in a rash of suicide bombings, finessed by al-Qaeda as a glorification of “violent martyrdom,” that claimed thousands of lives, many innocent civilians. The chapter titled “Who Funds the Militants?” is a fascinating look at the incestuous financial networks that allow the terrorist organizations to operate, and “A Question of Justice” explores the tribal system of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and how each group agitates for policies more suitable to its own sense of law, rather than what’s dictated from Islamabad.

Informational rather than didactic, Gul’s insider take will serve as an excellent resource.

Pub Date: June 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-02225-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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