Evenhanded, diplomatic, mutually respectful and enormously useful.




A thoughtful autopsy of the failed two-state paradigm.

Having worked to promote peace within conflicts in Northern Ireland, South Africa and Iraq, O’Malley (Peace and Reconciliation/Univ. of Mass., Boston; Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa, 2007, etc.) carefully sifts through the intractable coexistence between the Palestinians and Israelis and finds both sides so traumatized by the “narrative” of their respective struggle that they are unable to view the other with respect or humanity—the beginning of true reconciliation. Both claiming to be legitimate owners of the same land, both smarting from historical injustice and both stoking their feelings of victimization, the two sides are “irreconcilable,” as they have proved through numerous failed discussions from the two Oslo Accords through recent talks held by Secretary of State John Kerry. In a work of impeccable research, featuring extensive footnotes and employing interviews of both Palestinians and Israelis, O’Malley addresses the sticking points on both sides that form the “addiction” by each to an “ethos of conflict”: the omission of the Islamist, Gaza-based Hamas from the peacemaking process, thus ignoring the “elephant in the room”; Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian refugees or their descendants a “right to return” after the wars of 1947-1949; continued Israeli settlements by a ultraorthodox minority bent on “messianic zealotry”; a highly problematic economic sustainability in Palestine due to the “asymmetry of power” with Israel; and the “silently creeping, inexorably irreversible changes in Israel’s demographic profiles”—namely, fewer Jews and more Palestinians. O’Malley is not hopeful but rather disgusted that the two sides seem to be entrenched in their mutual hatred and absolutely unwilling to budge. To do so, he writes, requires establishing a “parity of esteem for each other’s narratives” and then perhaps a long cease-fire that would allow a new generation of leaders to step up.

Evenhanded, diplomatic, mutually respectful and enormously useful.

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-02505-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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