Likely too long for many readers, but the author effectively allows the depressing events to speak for themselves.

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500 DAYS

SECRETS AND LIES IN THE TERROR WARS

A blow-by-blow, episodic reconstruction of the fallout from 9/11 in the highest spheres of terrorist strategy.

Former New York Times reporter Eichenwald (Conspiracy of Fools, 2005, etc.) chronicles the entire post-9/11 year-and-a-half spectacular, demonstrating literally how the anti-terrorist hysteria in the United States, and the hatred of America and general global paranoia, forged the “trauma that haunts the world to this day.” The author begins in medias res, from the frightened exodus of White House workers fleeing the executive mansion once news of the World Trade Center attack erupted that morning. He moves in swift, tidily edited steps—e.g., discussions by White House Counsel officials in choosing Guantanamo Bay for detainees in custody; Vice President Cheney’s urging of immediate aggressive action against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan; the unanimous passage in the Senate of Bush’s sweeping and unprecedented war powers resolution; the seizure and torture of the Kuwaiti Ahmad El-Maati on suspicion of carrying a “sensitive” Canadian map later proved specious; the discovery of the American John Walker Lindh fighting for the Taliban; British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s agreement to help America’s efforts in Iraq as long as it emphasized the dictator's threat of weapons of mass destruction, which Iraq did not have; and on and on. All the dramatis personae from various government departments are here as well as foreign leaders and al-Qaeda operatives, all gunning for war, subterfuge and mayhem. Eichenwald ends with a desultory epilogue depicting the demise and burial at sea of Osama bin Laden.

Likely too long for many readers, but the author effectively allows the depressing events to speak for themselves.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6938-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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