Policy wonkish in tone, but will appeal to followers of events in the Middle East.



Forget Stalin, Mao and Reagan. The world leader with the greatest influence on the course of the here and now may be the Ayatollah Khomeini, architect of the 1979 Iran revolution.

Khomeini, writes Takeyh (Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, 2006), merits consideration as “one of the most successful revolutionary leaders of the twentieth century.” He also casts a shadow over current events as the tutelary spirit of Iran’s current regime, and its shadow arm, Hezbollah, which has been doing so much damage elsewhere in the region. Iran’s influence, writes Takeyh, owes a great deal to the Bush administration, which, by way of self-fulfilling prophecy, so demonized the Iranian government that a strange element came into power, exemplified by its Holocaust-denying president. “Iran has been offered unprecedented opportunities as its principal American nemesis finds itself unsure how to proceed in the Middle East,” writes Takeyh, “while its oil wealth has provided it with sufficient revenues to offset Western financial pressures.” Yet, the author counsels, Iran is not monolithic. It is full of pragmatists and even peacemakers, and it must be dealt with not as an arm of an imagined axis of evil but as a nation of considerable influence—one whose hard-line government may be forced to relax if an America that does not spoil for war or dominance suddenly figures on the scene. A friendlier Iran may, in the end, be of more influence in regional affairs than even a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine. Two paths remain open to the younger conservatives who are now in power, Takeyh concludes: either “a more tempered relationship with the United States or open confrontation with the ‘Great Satan’ ”—a choice that will likely depend heavily on American actions.

Policy wonkish in tone, but will appeal to followers of events in the Middle East.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-19-532784-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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...


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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