An exciting historical journey and highly informative look at the Middle East with Israel as the starting point.

SPIES OF NO COUNTRY

SECRET LIVES AT THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL

A focused espionage tale of the beginning of Israel and the spies who “turned out to be…the embryo of one of the world’s most formidable intelligence services.”

In his latest book, former AP correspondent Friedman (Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War, 2016, etc.), whose reporting has taken him to many parts of the Middle East, writes primarily about Arab Jews from the Islamic world who left their countries because they were persecuted and harassed. Unfortunately, in Israel, they were condescended to, ignored, and pushed to the fringes, believed not to be a real part of Israel. “The Israeli identity is increasingly Middle Eastern,” writes the author, “but the old languages and mannerisms are gone, as the Zionist movement always intended.” Friedman tells the fascinating story of the Arab Section, part of the Palmach, the Jewish underground army before there was a Jewish state. These men were from the Islamic world, thus easing their task to infiltrate it. Friedman focuses on four specific spies, all under the age of 25—Gamliel Cohen (from Damascus), Isaac Shoshan (Aleppa), Havakuk Cohen (Yemen), and Yakuba Cohen (Jerusalem, British Palestine)—who served as the link between the amateurish, small-scale beginning of Zionist intelligence, when Israel was a wish and not yet a fact, and the more professional efforts after 1948. The Palmach had very little money; the spies contrived their own cover stories, and equipment and communications were sketchy at best. At that time, Israel was many things, and the author deftly navigates the complicated identities and the stories beneath the stories. (One of his sources is the only remaining spy, Shoshan. As Friedman readily admits at the beginning of the book, this is not a comprehensive history of the birth of Israel—and it can’t be, since records are few, confusion was the norm, mistakes were made, and many died.

An exciting historical journey and highly informative look at the Middle East with Israel as the starting point.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61620-722-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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