While there have been numerous good works chronicling the revolution, this adds an emotional, personal layer to the myriad...

DIARIES OF AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION

VOICES FROM TUNIS TO DAMASCUS

The Arab Revolution rendered in intimate vignettes from the young people organizing, demonstrating and suffering for their yearning for freedom.

Born in countries experiencing revolutionary turmoil from Algeria to Yemen, many of these Arab-language journalists and writers were forced out of their respective countries by political oppression in order to pursue educational opportunities elsewhere. Editors Al-Zubaidi, Cassel and Roderick have effectively elicited the raw emotion from these voices—e.g., journalist Yasmine El Rashidi, who left her native Cairo at age 19 in 1997 for the dazzle of America, then was gradually pulled back in 2008, despite the inertia that had paralyzed the Egyptians for so long, by the sense of an unfolding, the “possibility of a romance.” In Tunisia, where the revolution dawned, Malek Sghiri had been expelled from university for his political activism against the government of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Sghiri’s father had been imprisoned years before, and as unrest began to gather in Sidi Bouzid in the wake of Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation, Sghiri and his friends felt themselves take revolutionary “fire,” united by a sense of comradeship and purpose that carried them through demonstrations, imprisonment and beatings, and into freedom. Self-conscious about her accent, Saudi-born filmmaker Safa Al Ahmad writes poignantly about the oppression toward women in her country and its shadowy “interests” that are “beyond the reach of the average citizen.” Reading these accounts, which also emerge from Bahrain, Algeria and Libya, one gets the sense that only the first steps have been boldly taken. Unfortunately, the essays mostly conclude by 2011, while efforts to endure fear and division enforced by the governments, for example by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, result in ongoing violence.

While there have been numerous good works chronicling the revolution, this adds an emotional, personal layer to the myriad voices.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-14-312515-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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