A sobering account of democratic fallibility in an age of anxiety.

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UNCOMPROMISED

THE RISE, FALL, AND REDEMPTION OF AN ARAB AMERICAN PATRIOT IN THE CIA

Lebanese-born ex-FBI and -CIA operative Prouty offers a disturbing account of how anti-Arab sentiment among key government officials led to her dismissal from the intelligence community and the suspension of her U.S. citizenship.

The understandably defensive tone of this book is established early on when the author writes that, though now Catholic, she was born a Druze and practiced “an amalgam of Muslim, Christian, Sufi, and Pentateuch teachings." When the American University of Beirut closed in 1989, she left Lebanon and an abusive family situation to live with an older sister who had established herself in Detroit. There, she doggedly pursued the education that would allow her to “break the cycle of dependency on men and become self-sufficient"—to the point of entering into an arranged marriage to secure her status in America. Prouty’s path eventually led her into a career as an undercover agent at the FBI and then the CIA. At both agencies, she quickly developed a reputation as a dedicated, first-rate professional who played an important role in capturing top terror suspects including Saddam Hussein. But in 2005, her career suddenly ground to a halt when federal investigators charged her with passing intelligence to Lebanese operatives of Hezbollah. A righteously indignant Prouty clearly seeks vindication for the wrongs committed against her, but she rages neither against her U.S. government accusers nor the journalists who excoriated her as a traitor. Instead, she expresses concern that her experiences as a “nonwhite, non-ethnically West European, and non-Christian” are symptomatic of larger cultural paranoia that, if left unchecked, will undermine enlightened civil society.

A sobering account of democratic fallibility in an age of anxiety.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-230-11386-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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