A primer for those who aren’t aware of the complexity of issues and emotions underlying this seemingly interminable strife.

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HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS

This graphic memoir, the author’s book-length debut, relates her eye-opening visit to Israel.

Before embarking on her “birthright” tour of Israel, Glidden explained to her non-Jewish boyfriend that “I’m ready to go there and discover the truth behind this whole mess once and for all. It’ll all be crystal clear by the time I come back!” The narrative sustains that spirit of self-deprecating innocence throughout, making Glidden an effective guide through the trouble spots of the Middle East, though inevitably she returns home with more questions than answers, more ambivalence than assurance. Anticipating propaganda that would attempt to counter what she terms her “left-wing and progressive,” pro-Palestinian sympathies, she met Israelis who shared some of her reservations and discovered that people whom she liked could have conflicting opinions on complex issues. “We ask only one thing of you and that is not to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, but to be pro-peace,” she heard at a speakers’ panel of Jews and Muslims who had both lost loved ones to the conflict. By the end of her two-month tour, she realizes that peace in the Middle East is the ultimate goal, but that achieving it will be a very challenging process. She attempts some inventive narrative techniques, but the author would have to show more insight or more of an edge to give readers more than they already know.

A primer for those who aren’t aware of the complexity of issues and emotions underlying this seemingly interminable strife.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4012-2233-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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