Feisty and learned: first-rate reading for any American who suspects that Fox News may not be telling the whole story.



Riverbend is an Iraqi woman of 24 who “survived the war. That’s all you need to know,” she wrote on the first day of her Weblog, August 17, 2003. “It’s all that matters these days anyway.”

Throughout this vivid account of occupied Iraq, though—seen here in a literal transcription of her first year’s worth of blog entries—we learn a lot more: we learn that in Baghdad, you wake up either in a jolt, after a scream or a gunshot, or slowly, fuzzily, pulling out of a hazy sleep in which you struggled against some horrific specter; that our blogger can’t go outside her home without a male escort, unless she wants to be insulted, leered and jeered at, possibly kidnapped; and that though she practices Islam, she does not want an Islamic government. Riverbend excoriates Bush and the “puppets” he has put in place to rule Iraq. She comments on everything from the financing of reconstruction and the shenanigans at Halliburton to the feasibility of a Kurdish state and the impact of Islamic Shari’a law on women. She also charts an ordinary life—ordinary, that is, in decidedly unordinary circumstances. While en route to visit an aunt, for instance, she decides not to wear sunglasses, lest she attract “undue attention” at a checkpoint. Meanwhile, she’s determined to correct what she perceives as bigoted ideas about Iraq: Iraq is home to many engineers and other professionals, she insists; Iraqis have computers (apparently, when her blog first started, some naysayers charged that Riverbend couldn’t possibly be Iraqi, because Iraqis don’t have or know how to use computers, let alone how to write in Riverbend’s polished English), and Iraqis will happily watch American films and drink American sodas. They simply don’t want to die at American hands, or live under American rule.

Feisty and learned: first-rate reading for any American who suspects that Fox News may not be telling the whole story.

Pub Date: May 2, 2005

ISBN: 1-55861-489-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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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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