Concise look at a crucial period in one of the world’s most explosive regions.

SOWING CRISIS

THE COLD WAR AND AMERICAN DOMINANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

How 50 years of destructive Cold War policies helped create the Middle East of today.

Though this brief work doesn’t aim to be an exhaustive survey, it ably gets the reader up to speed on many of the disputes that have made the Middle East a flashpoint in today’s U.S. foreign policy. Khalidi (History/Columbia Univ.; The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, 2006, etc.) places it all in context, and infuses it with sharp analysis. He writes engagingly and knowledgeably about U.S. and Soviet maneuvers that exacerbated the already severe tensions between Arab states and Israel. Both superpowers also got heavily involved in larger regional conflicts in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Motivated in part by fears of encroaching communism after World War II, but also by the desire to protect oil reserves, writes Khalidi, America supported and cooperated with “autocracies, kleptocracies, absolute monarchies, and other forms of despotic and authoritarian rule” in order to meet its ostensibly democratic goals. The Kurdish people in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, for example, have been repeatedly caught in the crossfire of U.S.-Soviet discord, and the author effectively shows the damage Cold War–era meddling did to the region as a whole. He also makes the case that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States, without a clear rival, has followed a series of disorganized and confused policies that have turned the Middle East into the “galaxy of disorder” we see today. In the final section, Khalidi urges the need for change and suggests ways this could come about, in part, by America shifting away from decades-old policies that make little sense in today’s world.

Concise look at a crucial period in one of the world’s most explosive regions.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0310-7

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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