Solid reporting from a deeply committed journalist.



A spiral of horror and reckoning emerges from the death of a young American couple in a terrorist bombing in Israel.

By the mid-1990s, suicide bombs detonated by Palestinian terrorists and sponsored by Iran’s jihadist organizations had begun to erode the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and Palestine—indeed, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin lost his life to a Jewish fundamentalist for even attempting to make peace. In this investigation, journalist Kelly (Fresh Jersey: Stories from an Altered State, 2000, etc.) traces the ramifications from several of those ominous early bombings—e.g., the deaths on targeted Israeli buses of Americans Alisa Flatow, in 1995, and Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld in 1996. Oddly, Flatow and Duker had attended the same high school; their bereft parents became friends and worked together toward landmark lawsuits intended by the Clinton administration to hold the terrorist powers accountable: in this case, Iran. The author fleshes out the victims’ lives as aspiring students and young people full of promise. Sadly, the victims were simply caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, as the assassin explained to the author (also to 60 Minutes), who visited him in prison well after the tragedy: “The target was the Israeli occupation,” he insisted. Kelly looks at the motivations of the suicide bombers, but he narrates mostly from the Israeli point of view. The bulk of the work follows the lawsuits filed by the victims’ families, encouraged by President Bill Clinton’s passage of several anti-terrorism measures; though they won many millions of dollars against Iran, they would see only a fraction of it. The author works the personal and political angles for a deeply intertwined look at the horrendous standoff that comprises today’s Israeli-Palestinian reality.

Solid reporting from a deeply committed journalist.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0762780372

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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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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