An alarming narrative, especially so because of its understated, never-shrill tone.




The story of how the Central Intelligence Agency continued its record of failure in the so-called war on terrorism, with fatal consequences.

In his debut, Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post intelligence reporter Warrick focuses on Dec. 30, 2009, when CIA officials, U.S. military personnel and Pakistani and Afghani operatives gathered at a well-protected base in Khost, Afghanistan, to meet a Jordanian pediatrician who had seemingly become a valued spy for the Americans inside Muslim terrorist networks. But as the book's title suggests, Humam Khalil al-Balawi, despite supposedly careful vetting by CIA and Pakistani experts, was actually on the side of the anti-American warriors willing to sacrifice their lives in order to kill Westerners. Once inside the base, Balawi ignited a bomb strapped to his chest, killing seven CIA personnel. Although the classified-information obstacles and polished lies of master spies make accurate reporting on such embarrassing fatalities extremely difficult, Warrick demonstrates the initiative that has marked his newspaper career to share details that are mostly attributed and seem credible. An able storyteller, Warrick provides enough background on each key character to make them come alive. With so much focus on Osama bin Laden since 9/11—especially the failures of presidents Bush and Obama to fulfill their vows that he will be captured—it is easy for readers to forget that many other faith-based operatives from al-Qaeda and related organizations know how to lure American personnel into death traps. Warrick demonstrates the skills of those operatives while quietly exposing the lack of wisdom continually demonstrated by American government and military officials.

An alarming narrative, especially so because of its understated, never-shrill tone.

Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53418-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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