One of the deepest and most disturbing investigations of one of the defining issues of our era.

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THE LONGEST WAR

AMERICA AND AL-QAEDA SINCE 9/11

A revelatory, pull-no-punches history of the War on Terror, from before 9/11 to the present day.

CNN national security analyst and journalist Bergen (The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader, 2006, etc.) takes a critical look at all phases of the conflict between the West and al-Qaeda. Drawing on an impressive range of both Western and Islamic sources, the author examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the jihadist movement, most importantly as exemplified by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden’s charismatic appeal arises in part from conscious emulation of the prophet Muhammad, writes Bergen, even as early as his joining the fight to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. In particular, his personal asceticism, maintained in spite of his great wealth, gives him credibility with the disaffected of the Islamic world and makes it easy for him to recruit candidates for suicide missions. But Bergen argues that bin Laden’s greatest triumph was also the ruination of al-Qaeda, making him the target of the most relentless manhunt of our time and forcing his followers to the margins of civilized society. At the same time, the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 was deeply flawed; the failure to close the trap on bin Laden at Tora Bora left him and his organization free to continue the fight against the West. Then, the Iraq war, against a country that had no part in 9/11, cost the United States an unprecedented level of international support, especially as the Bush administration abandoned the Geneva Convention in its treatment of prisoners. Bergen looks at the lessons learned on both sides of the war, notably the U.S. military’s rediscovery of one of the lessons of Vietnam: Small units working closely with the indigenous population can achieve what large concentrations of conventional force cannot. The author concludes that, simply by surviving so long, bin Laden has created a movement likely to carry on his brand of anti-Americanism for the foreseeable future.

One of the deepest and most disturbing investigations of one of the defining issues of our era.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7432-7893-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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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