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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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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