A valiant, detailed effort to establish some clarity around the murky historical underpinnings of the Arab/Israeli conflict.



Dogged, exhaustive survey of the rocky road from late-19th-century Zionism through President Harry Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel.

By the time New Republic senior editor Judis (The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, 2004, etc.) arrives at Truman’s travails over how to handle Jewish-Arab Palestine at the end of World War II, the author has already slogged through the complicated history of Zionism in late-19th-century Europe. He depicts Palestine both as a refuge from anti-Semitism, as envisioned by Theodor Herzl, and as a “spiritual center” coexistent with non-Jewish inhabitants as envisioned by Ahad Ha’am and the Lovers of Zion. Yet the “holy land” was not a place of “desolation” as per the mythmaking of the Western imagination. Rather, it was inhabited by hundreds of thousands of constantly feuding Muslims and Christians who lacked the political organization or money of the evolving Jewish Agency for Israel. The intransigence of both sides, Jew and Arab, is astounding, especially in the course of the early history, when there were actually moments when a binational solution might have been possible. The Balfour Declaration’s support for a “national home for the Jewish people” without affording the “non-Jewish communities in Palestine” any political rights furnished the validation that the Zionists needed for boosting Jewish immigration, purchasing choice agricultural land from the Arabs and rejecting Arab labor, all of which tipped the balance of power in the region. Moralist Truman’s hesitations about a Jewish state at the expense of the Arabs were overridden by the American Zionist lobby, led by the combative Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of the American Zionist Emergency Council. As Judis painstakingly delineates, Truman’s continually “passing the buck” allowed the Arab-Israeli War to inevitably unfurl.

A valiant, detailed effort to establish some clarity around the murky historical underpinnings of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-16109-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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