CROSSING THE JORDAN

ISRAEL'S ROAD TO PEACE

A detailed account of the highly circuitous, incomplete Israeli journey toward a modus vivendi, and possibly a long-term settlement, with the Palestinians and a full-fledged peace with Jordan. Segev, former Washington and Paris bureau chief for the Israeli daily Maariv and author of The Iranian Conspiracy (1988), focuses primarily on the period between the Madrid Peace Conference (1991) and the first anniversary of Benjamin Netanyahu’s election (1997). Among his revelations are that King Hassan of Morocco, as far back as 1958, sought to persuade fellow Arab leaders to recognize Israel and even admit the state into the Arab League; contacts between high Israeli officials and King Hussein go back to at least 1960, when the Mossad foiled two assassination attempts against the Jordanian monarch; and Israeli right-wing critics are at least partly right in arguing that the Oslo accords are far too vague where Israel’s security needs are concerned; in fact, that very point was made by then chief of staff, now Labor Party leader Ehud Barak. Segev illustrates how Yitzhak Rabin was persuaded to continue the Oslo secret negotiations initiated first by two Israeli academics, then joined by then foreign minister Shimon Peres; how Peres and Rabin managed to join forces despite decades of political competition and mistrust, though their reconciliation was hardly wholehearted; and how Yasir Arafat’s “ineffective and corrupt administration has eroded his credibility, and his leadership is being constantly challenged not only by his opponents but also by many of his closest companions.” Segev digresses a bit too such, particularly in dealing with the pre—Gulf War diplomatic soundings between Jerusalem and Baghdad, while he gives somewhat short shrift to intra-Palestinian politics and to developments within Syria. Still, he has uncovered an enormous amount of fascinating information, and has written a book on seminal years in Israeli and Middle Eastern history designed for those who like their diplomatic history thick, rich, colorful, and nuanced.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-15506-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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