Another contribution to the vast body of propagandistic literature (produced by both sides) that has helped to block a balanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finkelstein (Political Theory/New York Univ.) largely bases his history of the Intifada (198891), the revolt by Palestinians against Israeli occupation, on several visits to, and teaching experience in, the West Bank. He does provide some vivid, moving anecdotal material about the very real socioeconomic suffering and violence the Palestinians have endured during the 29 years of Israeli occupation. But this book is fatally compromised by a radical anti-Israel animus. In the service of his bias, Finkelstein sometimes distorts history, as in his ludicrous claim that ``Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, envisioned that the future state would incorporate the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon,'' and his assertion that ``it was Yasir Arafat's acceptance of the two-state solution that triggered Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982.'' There is no evidence for the latter argument. As to the former, it should be noted that shortly after the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, in 1947, Ben-Gurion convinced a reluctant Israeli Labor Party Executive Committee to accept the plan, which most of the Palestinian leadership and all of the surrounding Arab states rejected. In support of his positions, Finkelstein sometimes cites himself, sometimes such extreme critics of Israeli policies as Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn, and almost never a meticulous scholar at home in both Hebrew and Arabic sources, such as Benny Morris. This work may interest those who are already convinced that Israel is a kind of neocolonialist state. Those who want to gain a more balanced and substantial view of the roots of the current conflict and its implications for the future would do well to look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-8166-2858-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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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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