An intelligent and readable postscript to the Iraq War that will be valuable for future historians.

DEBRIEFING THE PRESIDENT

THE INTERROGATION OF SADDAM HUSSEIN

A report on the CIA’s interrogation of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (1937-2006).

Former senior CIA analyst Nixon—the first American to question Hussein at length after his 2003 capture following the fall of Baghdad—debuts with a fascinating glimpse of the “tough, shrewd, manipulative” leader and his views on the U.S. invasion, Iraqi history, and his own role in the Middle East. Tasked with identifying Hussein based on tribal markings (“Holy shit, it’s Saddam!” he remembers thinking), Nixon spent days in a dinghy guardhouse with the charismatic dictator, who proved sane but unlikable, variously cooperative and confrontational, and touted an inflated idea of his place in Iraqi history. Hussein scoffed at the idea that his country had weapons of mass destruction, denied any connection to al-Qaida, and said he had committed no war crimes. He said he was no longer governing at the time of the invasion but was instead spending his time writing fiction. He “loved” the Kurds, against whom his military, acting on their own authority, had used chemical weapons. Above all, he was “dumbfounded” at American ignorance of the Arab world. He thought the 9/11 attacks would bring the U.S. closer to his regime, which opposed radicalism in the Islamic world. Instead, the George W. Bush administration “vastly underestimated” Hussein, viewing him through a “tyrant caricature,” writes Nixon, noting, “no serious Middle East analyst believes that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States.” The author is highly critical of both the Bush administration and the CIA. He recounts White House visits during which officials obsessively demanded to know the location of the WMDs and displayed their misunderstanding of Iraq and the region. CIA leaders seemed interested mainly in pleasing the president. Readers are left with the impression that both Hussein and Bush were clueless about the thinking and motives of one another. There are some redactions in the text.

An intelligent and readable postscript to the Iraq War that will be valuable for future historians.

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-57581-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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