A worthy companion to Mourid Barghouti’s like-minded I Saw Ramallah (p. 515).

WHEN THE BIRDS STOPPED SINGING

LIFE IN RAMALLAH UNDER SIEGE

A thoughtful journal, by a Palestinian human-rights activist and attorney, documenting the Israeli invasion of the West Bank in April 2002.

The reasons for that invasion were many, Shehadeh (Strangers in the House, 2002, etc.) acknowledges; they followed repeated episodes of illegal Israeli settlement in the “occupied territories” after the Oslo Accords and an attendant rise in the number of terror attacks on Israeli civilians—in particular, the bombing in March 2002 of a hotel in Netanya in which a wedding feast was being held, which resulted in 29 deaths and provided the Sharon government reason to send in the tanks. Shehadeh holds that the Oslo Accords were doomed to failure, for they allowed Israel to transfer responsibility for civilian affairs to the Palestinian Authority; at the same time, however, the intransigent Sharon regime took steps to keep the Authority from delivering services and imposed prolonged curfews and restrictions. Shehadeh writes affectingly of how the military occupation played out day by day in the once-thriving Palestinian city of Ramallah, where civilians now had to dodge military patrols, submit to house-to-house searches, and endure privation, many of them “stranded for days in buildings and shops without food, surviving on dried chickpeas that they soaked in water and ate.” For his part, Shehadeh writes, he spent much of that terrible month pacing back and forth, regarding himself as fortunate because he had a large house. A balanced and sensitive observer, Shehadeh condemns governments, not individuals; in one moving passage, he recounts that an Israeli soldier left a note for a neighbor after a particularly destructive search: “Sorry for the mess. I hope we meet in better times. Stay away from the windows.” Yet his anger at the Israeli government—and that of Yasir Arafat—is evident and constant, and supporters of either will likely take issue with many of his remarks.

A worthy companion to Mourid Barghouti’s like-minded I Saw Ramallah (p. 515).

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58642-069-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2003

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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