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




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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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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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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