Enough time has passed for some of Kaplan’s forecasts to develop cracks—e.g., China has not yet stumbled—but much rings...

THE RETURN OF MARCO POLO'S WORLD

WAR, STRATEGY, AND AMERICAN INTERESTS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

The veteran political affairs journalist returns with a collection of essays that have been published in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the National Interest, and other venues.

Thoughtful, unsettling, but not apocalyptic analyses of world affairs flow steadily off the presses, and this is a superior example. Over the years, Kaplan (Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World, 2017), a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, has written several. Except for a long, insightful first chapter, these essays appeared between one and 15 years ago, so they say nothing about the post-Trump world, but few have aged poorly. Marco Polo claimed to travel from Italy to China across central Asia, returning over the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. To Kaplan, this journey encompassed the great Eurasian land mass whose faded empires (Turkey, Iran), rising imperial powers (Russia, China), and failed states (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc.) have replaced Europe as the area most critical to American interests. Although aware, American leaders still continue to get it wrong. After apologizing for getting it wrong himself—he supported invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan—Kaplan devotes most essays to explaining the proper approach. A “realist” à la his hero, Henry Kissinger, Kaplan maintains that Americans must lead the world only because, if we don’t, another great power will step in. He emphasizes that today’s greatest international threat is not tyranny but anarchy. Nations need effective government more than free elections; in its absence, American efforts to promote democracy through military (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam) or quasi-military means (Libya, Syria) always fail.

Enough time has passed for some of Kaplan’s forecasts to develop cracks—e.g., China has not yet stumbled—but much rings true, and all are presented with enough verve and insight to tempt readers to set it aside to reread in a few years.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9679-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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