Readers who believe Reagan deserves a positive ranking as president will find Sloyan’s exposé disturbing.



A look back at the massacre of 241 Marines at their barracks in Beirut in 1983 and how the fallout from that tragedy still influences American foreign policy today.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sloyan (The Politics of Deception: JFK's Secret Decisions on Vietnam, Civil Rights, and Cuba, 2015)—who covered international affairs since 1960 and died in February 2019 after finishing this book—succinctly chronicles the decades of hostility toward the American government before the suicide truck bombing, with much of that ill will related to U.S. support of Israel. Some of the author’s research occurred in recent years and some during the 1980s during his postings in Washington, D.C., Jerusalem, Beirut, and Cairo. The targeting of the Marine barracks had been foreshadowed six months earlier by a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, which killed 63 individuals, including 17 Americans. Sloyan portrays the president at the time, Ronald Reagan, as an uninformed chief executive who shared the viewpoints of his hawkish military and civilian aides. As the author shows, the administration failed to protect Americans in Lebanon partly because they never properly grasped the dynamics of the Middle East. Part of Sloyan’s exposé, which also offers parallels to contemporary history, focuses on how Reagan refused to accept blame for the fatal mistakes, instead using Marine Col. Timothy Geraghty as an undeserving scapegoat. At the end of the book, the author includes an anecdote suggesting that despite Reagan’s scapegoating of Geraghty, he remained a loyal Marine who refused to lash out at his commander in chief. Throughout the book, Sloyan points out “misleading statements and downright lies by both the American and Israeli governments.” The Beirut attacks proved not to be an isolated incident; they inspired Osama bin Laden to spread the word that terrorism against the U.S. was effective, a message that reached its horrible apotheosis on 9/11.

Readers who believe Reagan deserves a positive ranking as president will find Sloyan’s exposé disturbing.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-11391-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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