Berg’s account of the operation—remarkable due to its duration, execution, and success—reads like a spy novel.



The secret history of how Israel spirited thousands of Ethiopian Jews out of their war-torn country well before it became known in the world press.

Despite the vague and misleading title of this well-crafted investigative report, Berg, the Middle East editor of the BBC News website, tells an amazing story of the dogged behind-the-scenes workings of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, from the late 1970s to the ’90s. Largely ignored until Menachem Begin, a refugee of Nazi persecution, became prime minister of Israel in 1977, the Ethiopian Jews were a devout minority community whom some considered the descendants of the lost Tribe of Dan. They regarded Jerusalem as their spiritual home and followed the tenets of Judaism, such as circumcision, keeping kosher, and observing the Sabbath—although they still believed the Holy Land was occupied by the Romans. When their security was threatened by the outbreak of wars with Ethiopia’s insurgent neighbors, the Jews became a political pawn between Ethiopia and Israel—the latter spurred by the determined Begin administration to get the lost Jews safely to Israel, by land, air, or sea, from 1979 onward. Led by Mossad and a team that included Ethiopian Jew Ferede Aklum, the Jews, often traded for arms, were spirited through the Arous Village “resort” in Sudan, which the Israelis essentially bought and reconfigured as a ruse for their efforts in the early 1980s. The careful duplicity with which the Mossad agents acted is a marvel to read, and Berg meticulously re-creates the detail and dialogue. Eventually, the U.S. became involved when the refugee crisis worsened in the mid-1980s. From the first secret airlift until 1991, writes the author, who includes helpful maps and a list of the significant characters, 28,695 Ethiopian Jews were transported to Israel, “about 80 percent of their entire community.”

Berg’s account of the operation—remarkable due to its duration, execution, and success—reads like a spy novel.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78578-600-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Icon Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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