A slight and strident autobiographical account of an American academic's four-month stay on an Israeli kibbutz in 1992. Ferguson (Political Science and Women's Studies/Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa), who's married to an Israeli, records her impressions of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this political tract written in diary form. The issues she raises—the treatment of the Palestinians under Israeli military government, the secondary status of women in public life—are considered here in an ideologically hidebound manner, and her predictable observations and reactions are couched in inexpressive academic jargon. Visiting a ``phallic marble monument'' to Egyptian soldiers (a product of the Camp David Accords), Ferguson comments that ``this marker interrupts the dominant discursive terrain upon which memory is constituted.'' And in noting that there are many ``voices'' in Israel, she claims that ``one of the tasks of the Israeli state has been to mask this ways that co- opt or delegitimize its subversions.'' Nowhere in this book do we get a glimmer of a counter-argument—that the male militarism she so roundly condemns might be related to the militarism of Israel's enemies. The book is also riddled with errors, including the incorrect transliteration of important terms (for example, jamsin instead of hamsin, the hot desert wind). While insisting on theoretical correctness, Ferguson displays a practical ignorance about Arab and Israeli culture and religion. Throughout the book, she cites the Jerusalem Post as a reflection of Israeli public opinion, apparently unaware that, a few years before her stay in Israel, the paper was taken over in a right-wing ``coup'' and most of the editorial staff left to write for more politically moderate papers. Thankfully, Ferguson quotes liberally from well-informed and articulate critics of Israeli society, but this journal indicates that she has yet to join their ranks.

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-9623879-6-7

Page Count: 136

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1995

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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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