A deeply thoughtful boots-on-the-ground work about a topic that many of us have stopped thinking about.




Moving reportage by an American journalist who embedded with the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and with Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State group.

Coming from Brooklyn, George Polk Award–winning journalist Verini—a National Geographic contributing writer and frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine—was determined to serve a kind of “penance” when he arrived in Baghdad in the summer of 2016 for the first time; he was ashamed that he had been “too scared” to go to Afghanistan fresh out of college after 9/11. This time, he traveled in the wake of the Iraqi army as it moved on IS, which had captured Mosul two years before and declared a triumphant caliphate led by insurgent Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Throughout the taut narrative, Verini brings us vivid and often heartbreaking stories of everyday Iraqis, occupied and humiliated for eons, enduring yet another war “that nevertheless would not be happening, at least not in this way, if not for the American war that preceded it.” The invasion of Mosul was conducted by the Counter-Terrorism Service, which “had put the first real puncture in the [IS] defenses” in 2016, as well as multiple divisions of the Iraqi army, the Iraqi federal police, and international forces. The official end of combat, in Mosul, occurred in July 2017. Verini’s account is startlingly candid and informed, and the author has clearly benefited from some years of distance. He manages to effectively convey the complicated mess on all sides: American, Iraqi, IS. After the months of fighting, Mosul “looked as though a vindictive god had wiped his hand across the city.” In the battle, writes the author, “twelve hundred Iraqi soldiers were killed,” and while “no one will ever know how many civilians died, it was certainly in the thousands.”

A deeply thoughtful boots-on-the-ground work about a topic that many of us have stopped thinking about.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-65247-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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...


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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