An excellent, clear distillation of recent events in the Middle East.



A keen observer of the violent upheaval in the Middle East since the Arab Spring makes a strong assertion: there is no returning to the old autocratic ways.

Lynch (Political Science/George Washington Univ.; The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, 2012), the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science and contributing editor to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, posits that much of the recent events in the Middle East evolved into military crackdown and proxy wars as part of a radical regional restructuring. The Arab uprising shattered the status quo—the traditions of dictatorship and repression—and despite the enormous promise of peaceful transitions, the region has devolved into sectarian violence and Islamist radicalism. Lynch examines the hot spots—Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—to uncover “what went wrong and what to expect,” using a combination of on-the-ground reporting and political science (“structural drivers of events”). He also draws from Arabic social media, which continues to be a potent galvanizer for change. All of the conflicts he sees as being fomented by “transnational flows of money, information, people, and guns,” especially from richer nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which continue to polarize the conflict. Significantly, Lynch sees the Barack Obama administration’s restraint in the region—especially in not sending military assistance to the Syrian rebels, as well as in the recent nuclear deal with Iran—as provoking fundamental changes to the system of alliances while demonstrating indeed that the Americans have learned a profound lesson from the disastrous Iraq invasions. The author traces the Syrian conflict directly to the failed democratic uprising in Egypt, where the coup against the Muslim Brotherhood “removed the most powerful mainstream competitor to the jihadist trends” and unleashed a violent new strain of fighters bent on revenge.

An excellent, clear distillation of recent events in the Middle East.

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61039-609-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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