Thorough, fascinating life of Yigael Yadin (1917-84), the Israeli soldier-archaeologist who both made and remade history. Like Yadin, Silberman (Between Past and Present, 1989, etc.) is an expert in how modern states use archaeological data for nationalist ends. The author sees Yadin as a premier myth-maker who not only uncovered key sites and artifacts—such as letters from first-century rebel leader Bar-Kochba—but applied them to deepen a young nation's roots to its ancient homeland. Young Yadin is shown here soaking up a love for antiquities from his archaeologist father and developing a self-assured spirit from his schooling and household. Beginning with his responsibilities for the pre- statehood defense organization of the Haganah, Yadin's memory for detail and his ability to remain aloofly neutral helped propel him to become army chief of staff and confidant of David Ben-Gurion. Yadin's luck was remarkably good as well, and the author demonstrates how the archaeologist and his wife cultivated a mythic image at the expense of rivals. In war, Yadin gained fame by using ancient biblical roads to engineer key victories, while, in peacetime, he wanted to use his citizen-army to improve social conditions. Yadin's wife kept the soldier-scholar from the political battlefield, but after her death he headed the grass- roots Democratic Movement for Change party and ended up as a marginalized deputy PM in Begin's government. Silberman bemoans the fact that Israel's founding peacemaker was, at the end of his career, overshadowed by rivals like Moishe Dayan—but he realizes that, as a politician, Yadin's social flaws stood out. Silberman sees his subject as a charming speaker, as well as a brilliantly intuitive military planner and archaeologist—but also as an uncompromising loner: ``Yadin's true legacy was in the study of the past, not in the reform of the present.'' An eloquent, well-researched study of Israel's most eloquent researcher. (Photographs)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-57063-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1993

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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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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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