A scathing look at the human costs of war.



A bell-clear, powerful indictment of the debacle of recent Middle Eastern war policy.

Since 9/11, Los Angeles Times Moscow bureau chief Stack has been covering the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and her account illustrates the senseless destruction and carnage wrought in the region by the United States and Israel. The author spoke with a diverse range of people involved, including Afghani warlords waiting on American guns in order to fight the Taliban, and probably allowing al-Qaeda fighters to escape into Pakistan for a fee; terrorist victims in Megiddo, Israel; Iraqi refugees from the American invasion; the pampered community of Americans at the Saudi Aramco compound; a Yemeni high-court judge espousing his methods of “theological redemption”; angry young demonstrators in Beirut in the aftermath of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri’s assassination; and Egypt’s pious Muslim Brotherhood, who attempted to proceed with elections in spite of the Mubarak government’s “dirty tricks.” “Somewhere between Afghanistan and Iraq,” writes Stack bitterly, “we lost our way.” What she saw in her travels clearly indicates that America—the idea of America—was held up as a model. But after the bombings, invasions and Abu Ghraib, America has deeply disappointed the people in these devastated regions. Stack’s writing is visceral and intensely personal, as many of the people she knew and interviewed were killed—maybe even because she “took a chance with their lives” by being seen talking with them. “Countries, like people,” she writes movingly, “have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are.” Despite the war to bring democracy to the region, Stack observes, very little has changed, except a hardening, an acceptance of the seemingly endless condition of war.

A scathing look at the human costs of war.

Pub Date: June 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52716-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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