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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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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