Vital reading for those looking to understand, 65 years later, the origins of the continuing conflict in the Middle East.

DYING TO FORGET

OIL, POWER, PALESTINE, AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF U.S. POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

A Middle East scholar uncovers the post–World War II history of American policy in Palestine.

From the beginning, it’s been about oil. From the end of the British Mandate to the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan to Israel’s declaration of independence to the Lausanne Conference designed to deal with refugees and repatriation, U.S. policy in Palestine/Israel was determined by the overriding importance of oil. Gendzier (Emerita, Political Science/Boston Univ.; Notes From the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945-1958, etc.) meticulously reassembles the bureaucratic record from 1945 to 1949, most of it already known, emphasizing previously overlooked or neglected bits of evidence to demonstrate that U.S. officials understood from the beginning the problems on the ground in Palestine, the need for consensus between Jews and Arabs, the unwillingness of the Jewish Agency to accept anything but an immediate, independent Jewish state, and the subsequent catastrophe for the Palestinians. Why, then, did U.S. policymakers shift from cold-eyed criticism of Israeli unilateralism to support for the “transfer of Palestinians out of Jewish controlled areas” (even as they acknowledged Israeli responsibility for the refugee problem) to silence and, finally, to deference, to accommodating Israeli policies previously “considered unacceptable?” Gendzier attributes the transformation to the “oil connection,” to the gradual understanding by U.S. officials, including the Joint Chiefs and petroleum industry executives, that Israel’s unanticipated military superiority obviated the need to choose between oil interests and Israel and that Israel could act as a guarantor for the uninterrupted flow of oil, as a regional deputy, and as a force to keep the Soviet Union at bay. With oil and defense as priorities, justice for the Palestinians fell by the wayside. The author nails each of these policy transitions, some subtle, some not, to the written record, compiling an almost bulletproof brief.

Vital reading for those looking to understand, 65 years later, the origins of the continuing conflict in the Middle East.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-231-15288-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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...

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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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