Moving stories from the Iraqis who lived through the nightmare of the U.S. invasion and sectarian free-for-all that followed.

A journalist for Time in Iraq during the height of the violence of 2006 through 2009, Kukis was moved by the plight of the ordinary people to create a collective portrait of their suffering and transformation in the style of Studs Terkel’s The Good War. Gathered from hours of translated conversations with people brought to the Baghdad bureau offices by the Time staff to share their tales, the book recounts the grim U.S. invasion of 2003 and chase for Saddam Hussein, which wrought enormous casualties of civilians and epic displacement as well as moments of jubilation and relief. Soldiers tell of the initial bombardment and appearance of the astoundingly well-armed Americans with their “indestructible” machinery; others speak of the desertion of Iraqi troops and swift collapse of the army. “There was no honor to be had in this,” says another of the unequal battle. One vanquished army official compares the American occupiers to the Iraqi invaders of Kuwait years before: “The Kuwaitis looked at us the same way.” Hussein’s government fell, looting followed and reprisals against Ba’ath party members ensued. Ayad Allawi, a dissenter returned from exile who eventually served as prime minister, speaks of being shocked by the American cluelessness on how to run the conquered country. Guns were readily available, and roaming gangs and militia, fed by outside agitators such as al-Qaeda, inflamed tempers and suffering. Kukis eschews a strong editorial hand in favor of allowing these voices to emerge with a powerful frankness. An eloquent, well-selected narrative of the Iraqi invasion and devastating aftermath.


Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-231-15692-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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