Best-suited for military-history buffs, but a serviceable account for general readers looking to understand an extremely...




A military-affairs correspondent for USA Today chronicles the story of the fight for Ramadi, Iraq.

By 2006, Ramadi was the country’s most dangerous city, averaging more than 20 attacks per day. Suffering from an ineffectual provincial government and no police force, the population cowered under al-Qaeda control, unprotected by U.S. soldiers, themselves victims of sniper fire and roadside bombs. Charged with quelling the insurgency, the cerebral, introverted Col. Sean MacFarland formed an unlikely alliance with the swashbuckling Sheik Abdul Sattar Bezia al-Rishawi, head of a small tribe fed up with al-Qaeda brutality. Reaching out to other tribes, Sattar, who had lost multiple family members to terrorist attacks, announced a kind of declaration of independence from al-Qaeda—an uprising later dubbed “the Awakening”—and declared his willingness to join the Americans to fight the common enemy. With his command having virtually written off Ramadi, MacFarland chose to overlook Sattar’s unsavory smuggling career and dared to accept this offer that jeopardized the American policy of backing Iraq’s shaky civil government. Michaels, a former Marine infantry officer, explains how these two very different men, working under the radar and against the prevailing narrative that the Iraq war was lost, flipped the populace against the hardcore militants and restored something resembling order to the city. The author sprinkles his account with brief profiles of other military men—particularly the unorthodox Capt. Travis Patriquin, beloved by the Iraqis—who figured prominently in the turnaround, but focuses on the strategy, counterinsurgency principles later institutionalized throughout the country by Gen. David Petraeus. In simple prose occasionally marred by repetition, Michaels explains how taking sides for the tribes was never a matter of ideology but rather of self-interest. Before joining the Americans, they required the demonstration MacFarland so skillfully provided—that American forces would stay and win.

Best-suited for military-history buffs, but a serviceable account for general readers looking to understand an extremely confusing, frustrating war.

Pub Date: June 22, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-58746-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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