A long, bitter indictment of Riyadh, whose royal denizens are charged with greed, self-interest, and incompetence. ``Like a rotting carcass, the House of Saud is beginning to decompose,'' writes political consultant and journalist Aburish (Children of Bethany, not reviewed, etc.), who blames Saudi Arabia for the long and wide tragedies of the Arab people. The bulk of his documentation alludes to Saudi involvement in scores of political coups, assassinations, destabilizing insurrections, and full-scale civil wars. According to the author, Arafat, Abu Nidal, Qaddafi, and Idi Amin are all among the destructive forces set into place by the Saudis, who are said to feel safest when everyone else is too busy fighting to count the Rolls Royces, wives, and palaces of their royal family. In Aburish's view, the ruling Wahhabi clan has always acted in its own interest and against pan-Arabic movements, quelling even inter-Arab plans to create unified airlines, railway systems, satellite communications, and a Supreme Court. While Aburish tends to see a Zionist or CIA agent behind every oil driller, there is an attempt to balance passion with research. He traces how Saudi Arabia's conservative brand of Islam opposed secular nationalism during the Cold War and how Saudi petro-dollars have supported groups like the anti-nationalist, fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. But as rising fundamentalism and resentment against the Saudi guardians of Mecca combine with falling economic muscle (Aburish sees the Saudi national debt climbing to $100 billion this year), the author predicts that the Wahhabis will go the way of the Shah of Iran—with significant repercussions for the West. Despite—and often because of—the author's strong bias, this book is valuable reading for anyone who wants to understand the prevailing Arab perceptions of modern Middle Eastern history. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 19, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-12541-0

Page Count: 326

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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