A useful analysis of failed American military initiatives that could inform future debates about interventions in...



An academic employs a variety of theories to explain the failure of American policymakers after the invasions of Iraq that began in 2003.

MacDonald (International Relations/Williams Coll.; Why Race Matters in South Africa, 2006, etc.) does not come across as neutral, despite employing sometimes-abstract theory to discuss on-the-ground warfare; in fact, he calls the war "destructive and irrational." While the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke provide material for MacDonald in substantial sections of the book, the author mostly integrates theories from a variety of modern academic disciplines to explain why the George W. Bush administration chose to mount a war that seemingly had no chance of achieving even most of the stated objectives. Although keenly critical of Republicans, MacDonald does not spare the Democratic supporters of the war, and he discusses the apparent calculations of then-Senator Hillary Clinton for voting, however reluctantly, to wage war. If the American war machine had simply settled for ousting Saddam Hussein, the war may have been considered at least a partial success. However, writes MacDonald, the regime change so desired by the war's supporters failed to result in anything resembling American-style democracy, thus rendering the costly (both in the financial sense and regarding the loss of life) war counterproductive. The author calls into question some of the popular theories about why Bush chose to invade, theories that revolve around Israeli influence, the quest for Iraqi oil reserves, and the Republican Party's electoral campaigns to win the White House as well as both chambers of Congress. While knocking down certain theories, MacDonald demonstrates vigorously and with intellectual clarity why the tenets of American exceptionalism do not usually translate to other areas of the world, with Iraq being just one example.

A useful analysis of failed American military initiatives that could inform future debates about interventions in traditionally despotic nations that are also split among historically hostile religious factions.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0674729100

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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