A well-reasoned, if one-sided, overview of Israel’s most recent war with Hamas.

GAZA CONFLICT 2021

A scholar of the Middle East surveys the 2021 Israeli-Gaza conflict in this political book.

With a Ph.D. centered on 20th-century terrorism from King’s College London and as the author of multiple books on Palestine, Schanzer and his perspective on the Middle East have been featured everywhere from cable news to congressional hearings. In this book, he turns his attention to the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021. In an accessible, concise narrative geared toward the general public, the volume begins with a history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a special focus on the rise of Hamas. Central to the author’s motivation in writing the book is his belief that the Western media failed to accurately cover the war. In addition to the media downplaying “the brutality of Hamas” and neglecting to acknowledge “how far Israel went to protect its own people” through defensive rather than offensive tactics, the volume argues that the role of Iran in stoking the conflict was insufficiently analyzed by Western journalists. While Schanzer’s narrative shows Hamas and Iran as the root instigators of the war, he also emphasizes that Israel’s conflict with the wider Arabic world is actually “shrinking.” With fluency in both Arabic and Hebrew and backed with an impressive network of endnotes, the author provides readers with a diverse range of perspectives from Middle Eastern media sources as well as his own interviews with American and Israeli officials. But critics of Israel’s Palestinian policies may be skeptical of the book’s conclusion that Israel “has consistently gone out of its way both to shorten the length of its conflicts…and to minimize casualties” as well as its dismissal of the “unproductive debates about whether Israel is justified in its military control over the West Bank” and the Gaza Strip. And while acknowledging that “the Israeli government deserves some blame here,” its fault, according to Schanzer, is almost exclusively in public relations blunders. Strangely absent from the work’s analysis is any meaningful commentary on Benjamin Netanyahu’s spring 2021 trial, which occurred simultaneously with the Gaza conflict, a war that many at the time believed could bolster his political career.

A well-reasoned, if one-sided, overview of Israel’s most recent war with Hamas.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-956450-01-9

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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