BITTER SCENT

THE CASE OF L'ORÇAL, NAZIS, AND THE ARAB BOYCOTT

An unconvincing attempt to link cosmetic giant L'OrÇal's alleged obeisance to the Arab boycott of Israel to French wartime collaboration with the Nazis. A recent Israeli magazine included a two-page ad from Paris-based L'OrÇal headlined ``Beauty Without Boundaries.'' It was typical of dozens of such ads in the past year, apparently calculated to repair the damage done by the company's long-alleged illegal cooperation with the Syrian-based office that decides which companies should be boycotted in the Arab world for doing business with Israel. Journalist, novelist, and one-time Israeli Knesset member Bar-Zohar (Brothers, 1993, etc.) escalates the PR war, first by attempting to nail L'OrÇal on the boycott issue with a mountain of evidence, and then by attacking the company for employing several men with alleged ties to France's WW II collaborationist government. But the absence of footnotes makes it impossible to judge the reliability of his evidence in this matter. And the book's sensationalistic style only serves to cloud the issues. Bar- Zohar's apparently heavy reliance on the brothers Jean and David Frydman as sources further damages the book's credibility. Jean Frydman has dual Israeli-French citizenship and was allegedly removed from the board of a L'OrÇal subsidiary to comply with the Arab boycott. The Frydmans and L'OrÇal are engaged in numerous suits and countersuits, and, in the absence of detailed sourcing, there is no way of judging the credibility of their allegations. Bar-Zohar cites enough documentation to make many of his unsavory broadsides against L'OrÇal stick, but he offers absolutely no evidence to connect the war records of L'OrÇal officers to actions taken 40 years later. Bar-Zohar apparently expects readers to assume that yesterday's collaborationists would rather do business with Arabs than Jews. Such unsubstantiated charges smack more of smear than revelation. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-94068-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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