The Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME) constructs an innovative textbook juxtaposing the historical narratives of two peoples in seemingly endless conflict.

Developed by a group of Israeli and Palestinian teachers, this text will prove useful not just to the young, but to anyone who quails at the thought of even attempting to unravel the knotty history of the Middle East. Under PRIME’s auspices, editors Adwan (Education/Bethlehem Univ.), Bar-On (now deceased) and Naveh (U.S. History/Tel Aviv Univ.), recognizing that the hostilities run deep and the divisions remain bitter, have set aside any attempt at consensus. They have “settled” instead for dual, oftentimes dueling, narratives of Israeli and Palestinian history, from the 1917 Balfour Declaration through 2000, the end of the Clinton administration and the outbreak of the Second Intifada. On alternate pages, literally “side by side,” the editors present both the Palestinian and Israeli versions of significant events that have marked the fraught decades of the 20th century. This device—along with a short introduction explaining their methodology—helps demonstrate the scrupulousness of their enterprise and underscores the differences between the parties, but it unfortunately makes for cumbersome reading. Alternate chapters would have served just as well to illustrate the stark divisions between these longtime antagonists. One side’s “War of Independence” is the other’s “catastrophe”; for Israel, the 1967 Six-Day War was “a huge victory in a war it didn’t initiate or intend,” where the Palestinians see it as an act of pure “aggression”; for the Israelis, America prosecuted the Gulf War to “maintain stability in the Middle East, “ understanding “its first priority was to achieve a political order acceptable to all sides,” while the Palestinians condemn the U.S. for using “its achievements in the war to enhance its hegemony even on its European allies.” Readers shouldn’t expect fine writing; this is a committee project where the goal is to avoid the flashy or the incendiary, to present, as honestly as possible, each side’s point of view. A small but important step, if not toward peace, then perhaps toward understanding.


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59558-683-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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