A wonderfully lucid historical, sociological, cultural, and religious guide to the world's most revered and conflict-ridden city, where ``the myths of the ancient fathers are the essence of local politics.'' A former deputy mayor of Jerusalem and author of, most recently, Intimate Enemies: Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land (1995), Benvenisti notes how both Jews and Arabs have greatly expanded Jerusalem's borders since Israel and Jordan agreed to divide the city in 1948, and particularly since Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem and the city's reunification in 1967. He is especially interesting on the anthropology of urban development, noting how ``every house built and every tree planted came to be seen as a quasi-military stronghold in the national struggle for spatial and demographic dominance.'' Benvenisti parcels out blame to all sides for the interreligious suspicions and neighborhood balkanization that characterize the city's political and socioeconomic life. For example, although longtime Mayor Teddy Kollek preached the glories of an ``urban [ethnic] mosaic,'' his administration practiced otherwise: Only six percent of his proposed 1992 budget was earmarked for Arab neighborhoods. Yet Israeli rule has benefited the Arab population economically and must be seen in the context of the Jordanian occupation of East Jerusalem (194867), when 80 percent of the 50,000 Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives were desecrated. Benvenisti writes especially well on the intricate spiritual politics of the Temple Mount (site of the city's two great mosques, as well as the Western Wall, its most sacred Jewish site), and clearly summarizes the major approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over Jerusalem, while wisely steering clear of endorsing any single approach. This well-written, clear-headed work is a significant contribution to the pursuit of a diplomatic agreement on Jerusalem. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-520-20521-9

Page Count: 283

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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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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