AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE, WHAT FORGIVENESS?

MY ENCOUNTERS WITH KURDISTAN

A veteran journalist's engrossing take on the Kurds, a people who pose a constant difficulty for governments throughout the Middle East and the largest ethnic group in the world (25 million) without its own country. Before focusing on the latter-day misfortunes of the Kurds, Washington Post foreign correspondent Randal offers background information that helps put them in clearer perspective. An Indo- European people whose traditional homeland (Kurdistan) encompasses roughly 200,000 square miles in the mountains of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, the Kurds have been history's victims since time out of mind. Conquered over the centuries by Arabs, Mongols, and Turks, they slipped from notice until the Ottoman Empire's breakup. Randal offers first-hand reportage on how the US-led coalition left Kurdish forces in the lurch after its Gulf War triumph. Doubling back, he sorts out how Israel, the UK, the USSR, and other powers have used Kurds for their own geopolitical purposes. Covered as well are Saddam Hussein's genocidal assaults on Iraqi Kurds, the shah's perfidy (which was abetted by the Nixon administration's Henry Kissinger), Turkey's far from benign treatment of its sizable Kurdish minority, and the flawed chieftains (Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Abdullah Ocalan, Jalal Talabani, et al.) who lead, or have led, significant Kurdish factions. By the author's vivid account, Kurds have made a name for themselves as outside agitators. While one can support their cause (self-determination and regional autonomy, if not independence) and deplore the betrayals they have suffered, he makes clear that the Kurds are far from endearing. Indeed, Randal asserts, they're quarrelsome, typically factional, frequently duplicitous, and all too apt to lose at the bargaining table what their fighters have won on the battlefield. An effective, affecting portrait of a resilient, dispossessed people who continue to believe that they shall overcome some day.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-374-10200-7

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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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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