SREBRENICA

RECORD OF A WAR CRIME

By focusing on the single most horrific event in the Bosnian war, the authors reveal in compelling detail the complex and ambiguous nature of international involvement in that conflict. In July 1995 the ``safe area'' of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia fell to Bosnian Serb forces, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops. Some 20,000 women and children were deported. Several thousand Muslim men, both soldiers and civilians, were killed in cold blood by the Bosnian Serb army. Honig and Both's presentation of these enormously complex and frustrating events serves as a general indictment of all the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. The authors are Dutch specialists in war and defense studies, and their account dwells heavily on the military and political considerations, including the role of Dutch combat forces, the only UN forces serving in that area. This meticulous and honest reconstruction of events leaves no party unblemished, from the warring armies to UN officials. (Dutch soldiers, for instance, were held hostage by both Bosnian Army and Bosnian Serb forces.) Sharp accusations are leveled at the Serbian leadership itself, whom the authors consider guilty of pursuing genocide as ``part of a deliberate strategy.'' If there is a clear villain in this story, it is General Ratko Mladic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army. If there is a hero, it is certainly General Phillippe Morillon, of the UN forces, who valiantly attempted to save Srebrenica by personal initiative. Above all, Srebrenica questions the morality of the international community's policies in Bosnia. ``Was it right,'' the authors ask, ``to have opposed ethnic cleansing and instituted `safe areas' in eastern Bosnia, if one was unwilling to put one's life at risk to protect the people in those areas?'' Srebrenica is a penetrating and thoughtful response to this vexing and complex question.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-14-026632-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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