A sober and sane but not pessimistic look at what may emerge from the current Arab crises.




A BBC journalist makes a cogent prognosis for the post-revolutionary Arab world. 

As the dust continues to settle after the Arab Spring, former Middle East bureau chief Danahar sifts through the chaos for some order and even hope after dictators fall and a new configuration of religion and politics takes root. The author, present at many of the recent events in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Israel and Syria, walks readers through the region-altering revolutions since President George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” forced the first dictator to topple in Iraq 10 years ago. The American occupation created a cataclysmic meddling of the power balance between Shia and Sunni factions, forcing a sectarian lawlessness that no one wants repeated in Syria. Indeed, one of the biggest lessons was that, in the words of the Arab American Institute’s Dr. James Zogby, “America’s leverage is much less than it was ten years ago.” As the fed-up young populaces of other Arab countries began demanding the end of dictatorships, America had to stand back and watch, whether it liked the outcome or not. The Arabs are wrestling with what they want their countries to look like: religious states or democracies? In Israel, too, which Danahar notes must stop regarding itself as a European spa and grasp its pivotal Middle Eastern role, the secular versus the religious is playing out in deeply divisive ways. In Libya, the author finds the idea of a “Year Zero,” which offers a “clean slate” to the Libyan people and much cause for optimism. However, in blood-soaked Syria, where the government barbarity against its citizens is viewed live worldwide, the people have similarly learned the terrible lesson that “there will be no foreign cavalry coming over the horizon.” Danahar’s analysis of this new configuration of power and principle is well-reasoned and useful.

A sober and sane but not pessimistic look at what may emerge from the current Arab crises.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62040-253-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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