A copious account of the modern American experience with terrorism that substitutes descriptive detail for thoughtful analysis. Although the book's title implies a comprehensive history of terrorist activity in America, the text covers the period from 1776 to the 1950s in less than 30 pages. The narrative proper develops after 1968, which Simon, editor-in-chief of TVI (Terrorism, Violence, Insurgency Report), pinpoints as ``the beginning of international terrorism as we know it today.'' He explores three central themes: the growing frequency of terrorist acts; the presidential role in countering terrorism; and the potential for terrorists to exploit sophisticated weaponry and technology. Using interviews with terrorists, hostages and other victims, government officials, and, most effectively, former presidents, Simon conveys the personal drama inherent in these often tragic events. These episodes, however, are frequently mired in excessive detail and lacking in critical analysis. Simon accepts the ``endless nature of terrorism,'' and thus falls into a pattern of describing individual incidents without considering their larger causes or their common linkages. For instance, Simon does not discuss the relation between America's economic, political, and social ties to Israel and its increasing position as a target of terrorist activity. Thus the connections among the 197981 Iranian hostage crisis, the 1983 bombings of the US embassy and marine barracks in Lebanon, the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, the Persian Gulf War, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (to which he devotes significant space) are never drawn. Simon deserves credit for broaching such a broad and overwhelming subject as terrorism—a subject he has obviously studied at great length. Though he may understand the manifold definitions of ``terrorism,'' however, these distinctions are not clearly identifiable for the reader. Despite its various limitations, the book proves a worthwhile read on a thorny and highly sensationalized topic. (45 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-253-35249-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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