Good reading for readers interested in learning about the Saudi Arabia that lies beyond the image of a wealthy country with...

ON SAUDI ARABIA

ITS PEOPLE, PAST, RELIGION, FAULT LINES--AND FUTURE

Former Wall Street Journal reporter and publisher House delivers a well-researched, informative book about Saudi Arabian society and where she believes it is headed.

The author interviewed a wide variety of Saudi Arabians, including rich and poor, Muslim fundamentalist and modern. Among the subjects is a devout Muslim woman who hosted House for several days in hopes of converting her to Islam. House was not allowed to speak to the woman’s husband and was covered from head to toe the one time she was in close quarters with him. On the other end of the spectrum, a young Saudi Arabian female journalist runs an all-girls soccer team, goes to private beaches and has dinner with male friends. She leads a life resembling that of any young woman in the West. House also interviewed reformed terrorists whom the Saudi Arabian government provided with jobs and homes in exchange for repenting. She follows developments in women’s rights, such as efforts to change the court system, which favors males. House succeeds in capturing the diversity of Saudi society, painting a more complex picture than the caricature of oil wells and extreme wealth, but a smug authorial tone occasionally creeps in. She references the “passivity” of Saudi people in relation to their government, as if overthrowing a dictator who has no qualms about cutting off people’s limbs is an easy task. House claims that the country demonstrates Marx’s statement about religion being the opium of the masses, a contention that disregards how a ruthless religious dictatorship can enforce religious practices. Fortunately, for most of the book, House sticks to the facts.

Good reading for readers interested in learning about the Saudi Arabia that lies beyond the image of a wealthy country with unlimited money from oil, but some of the author’s opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-27216-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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