Srodes establishes Sarah’s bravery, but she remains a mysterious presence, overshadowed by her brother.

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SPIES IN PALESTINE

LOVE, BETRAYAL AND THE HEROIC LIFE OF SARAH AARONSOHN

A brief history of Jewish spies aiding the British in Palestine.

In the late 19th century, Ephraim and Malkah Aaronsohn and their children settled in Zichron Ya’akov, one of many Palestinian villages established in the 1880s by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a convert to Zionism, who aspired to grow vineyards in the desert. Srodes (On Dupont Circle: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Progressives Who Shaped Our World, 2012, etc.) traces the family’s history as they confronted an inhospitable climate, turmoil in the Ottoman Empire, anti-Semitism, infighting among Zionists, and World War I. Despite the subtitle, the main character in this tense narrative is Aaron Aaronsohn, the feisty, often overbearing eldest brother. Drawing on sources such as Patricia Goldstone’s Aaronsohn’s Maps (2007) and Ronald Florence’s Lawrence and Aaronsohn (2007), Srodes offers little new. Aaron was a prodigy who taught himself botany, geology, and hydrology; noting his intelligence, the baron sent him to agricultural college in France, hoping to reap the rewards of his learning. Later, he was invited to study in America, where he connected with some prominent Jews, among them Felix Frankfurter, Henry Morgenthau, Louis Brandeis, and Oscar Straus. Besides developing his knowledge of agriculture, Aaron proved a stellar fundraiser for Jewish settlements. Srodes devotes much of the book to revealing the spy network in which Aaron and his sister Sarah played a major role. Facing the Turkish army, the British lacked accurate maps of the region. Aaron provided them and also intelligence gathered from dozens of Jewish spies. In 1917, with Aaron away, Sarah took over and expanded this network. She and a colleague traveled throughout the area posing as Germans, gathering what Srodes deems “priceless details.” Later in 1917, Sarah was tortured and died, making her a martyr for Israel. The author claims that T.E. Lawrence dedicated his Seven Pillars of Wisdom to her, although he has found evidence that Lawrence never met her.

Srodes establishes Sarah’s bravery, but she remains a mysterious presence, overshadowed by her brother.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61902-613-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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