A disturbing account that prompts new admiration for a people whose age-old toil for a homeland will continue after the...




Stimulating history of the single Iraqi ethnic group that doesn’t want American troops to leave Iraq.

BBC correspondent Lawrence’s debut reviews the ancient struggle for independence of 25 million Kurds (the majority living in Turkey), a struggle they may be winning despite the opposition of the United States and every Middle Eastern nation. They seemed on the verge of success after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, but Kurdish leaders made the mistake—one they would repeat—of pinning their hopes on America. By the time they realized that Woodrow Wilson was unwilling to twist anyone’s arm to achieve a new world order of democracy and self-determination, Mustapha Kemal (later known as Ataturk) had created a modern Turkish state, and Britain had remapped the Middle East, leaving the Kurds inside Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The world ignored 70 years of violent revolt and oppression until the end of the first Gulf war in 1991. Hearing that the United States would look favorably on Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, Iraqi Kurds rose again, trusting that America would help. Only widespread revulsion at Hussein’s brutal reaction persuaded Western nations to act. They enforced a “no-fly” zone in Northern Iraq, essentially preventing Hussein’s army from entering and creating a reasonable facsimile of an independent Kurdistan. Still insecure, the Kurds cooperated enthusiastically with U.S. planning for a second invasion—which began well before 2003, the author avers. They also did not join in the chaos that followed. Lawrence emphasizes repeatedly that America is greasing the squeaky wheel in Iraq, obsessively concerned with unruly Sunnis and Shiites at the expense of Kurds who would love a permanent American military presence to protect them from Turkey, Iran and the Iraqi Arab majority.

A disturbing account that prompts new admiration for a people whose age-old toil for a homeland will continue after the United States withdraws from the region.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1611-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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