A well-written, balanced, and intriguing reference.

ZIONISM

THE BIRTH AND TRANSFORMATION OF AN IDEAL

An examination of Zionism through its most influential proponents.

Former New Yorker Middle East correspondent Viorst (What Shall I Do with This People?: Jews and the Fractious Politics of Judaism, 2002, etc.) takes a largely objective approach to a controversial subject: the quest for a Jewish state. The book will be especially useful to those new to the idea of Zionism and its historical implications while also providing food for thought to readers more engaged with the topic. After setting the stage with a succinct prologue, Viorst discusses Theodor Herzl, widely considered the father of modern Zionism. The author then moves on to Chaim Weizmann, who was influential in bringing about the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of a Jewish state. Next up is Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose militant brand of Zionism was dubbed Revisionism. Viorst takes a subtle stance against Revisionist Zionism throughout the rest of the book, believing that it has left an intractable legacy of violence and of Arab subjugation. David Ben-Gurion, certainly a soldier at heart but not of the Revisionist brand, brought Zionism to a new level of reality with his declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Revisionism would be taken up in the Israeli leadership by Menachem Begin and given religious sanction through Rav Abraham Isaac Kook and his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook. Viorst concludes with an examination of the events leading up to the current regime of Benjamin Netanyahu. The author echoes the sentiments of Herzl that once a Jewish state was created, Jews would find it difficult to live with differing points of view. “The chief conflict among Zionists today,” he writes, “focuses on whether Israel will make the concessions needed to reconcile with its neighbors, or continue indefinitely to use force to dominate them.” Indeed, Viorst’s greatest lesson is that the Zionist movement is anything but singular in character.

A well-written, balanced, and intriguing reference.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07800-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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