Entertaining and somewhat informative, but readers should take it with a grain of salt.

MOSSAD

THE GREATEST MISSIONS OF THE ISRAELI SECRET SERVICE

Action-packed accounts of the missions of one of the world’s most effective and mysterious intelligence services, Israel’s Mossad.

Former Knesset member Bar-Zohar (Shimon Peres, 2007, etc.) and Israeli TV personality and journalist Mishal (Those Were the Years: Israel’s Jubilee, 1997, etc.) spare no detail about the gruesome killings and plots of the Israeli agency. In fact, the authors often boast about the deadliness of Mossad agents, especially former director Meir Dagan. Most of the missions included here feature unexpected twists and nearly unbelievable plotlines that rival a fast-paced thriller. For example, there is the story of Elie Cohen, a Mossad agent who posed as a Syrian expatriate who was homesick in Argentina and wanted to move back to his homeland. He threw parties and mingled with the political inner circle, all while dispatching their secrets to Israel on a daily basis. Another operation involved smuggling the unconscious body of a former Nazi leader out of Argentina by having his double check into a hospital using the target’s name. Though unquestionably exciting, many readers may find the narrative bordering on propaganda, and the last chapter is disappointing. Bar-Zohar and Mishal cobble together facts to make an unconvincing argument about how Israel should receive support to fight against the threat of Iran, cherry-picking facts to fit their position. For example, the authors write that former Iranian deputy defense minister Ali-Reza Asgari defected to Israel in 2007, even though the debate continues about whether he actually defected or was kidnapped.

Entertaining and somewhat informative, but readers should take it with a grain of salt.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-212340-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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