Insights about failed diplomacy in the Middle East by an American agent with a unique perspective.

After earning a law degree and a doctorate, the late O’Connell (1921–2010) joined the CIA and was stationed in Jordan in 1958, where he won the trust of King Hussein, a significant U.S. ally in the volatile Middle East. After leaving the CIA in the early ’70s, the author joined his brother's law firm and became Hussein's Washington representative. The two men dealt with each other, in public and private, thousands of times. O'Connell came to see Hussein as the most likely broker of accord between the Jewish state of Israel and its Arab antagonists. But frequently his comrades at the CIA, as well as other U.S. government officials, seemed blinded to Hussein's potential as a peace broker because of political allegiances to Israel. Throughout the narrative, the author portrays many prominent American political figures as fools or liars, or both—including Henry Kissinger, Lyndon Johnson, Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush. The memoir is bound to cause controversy within Israel and among Israeli supporters around the globe, given the author's rage at what he believes is a murderous state whose most influential leaders prefer war to peace. Despite the foibles of the CIA, O'Connell demonstrates little ill will, remaining a loyal alumnus. A readable, potentially incendiary account that assumes a certain amount of prior knowledge about Middle East diplomacy, yet is coherent enough for novice readers to follow. 


Pub Date: May 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-393-06334-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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