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A humane, responsible entry in a discourse marked by irresponsible inhumanity.

“This is not an ordinary place you can map out with a surveyor’s rod.” So, in this engaging memoir, notes Palestinian intellectual, politician and peace activist Nusseibeh of his lost homeland.

As his narrative opens, Harvard- and Oxford-educated Nusseibeh, long an informal advisor to Yassir Arafat, is awaiting “The Old Man’s” funeral procession in Gaza. Arafat had headed the Palestinian Liberation Organization and, by default, the Palestinian people for more than 40 years, and now in his absence there is every danger of Hamas and other extremist groups taking over, a prospect Nusseibeh dreads. “Arafat was not your run-of-the-mill Arab despot,” he writes, though he faults the leader for lagging behind his people, who really did want peace with Israel, a fact the PLO head seemed unwilling to accept. Ordinary Israelis seemed of a similar mind, though, he writes, the original partition had built an unworkable mess into the process from the start. Along the course of his narrative, Nusseibeh’s wayward politics earn him a savage beating, attacked by a group of young men whose own leader, it develops, is connected to the Jordanian intelligence service. As he recounts, he was in as much danger of being killed by Israeli extremists as Palestinians, but still he advocated a two-state solution, rejecting the idea that Israel should be pushed into the sea and refusing to resort to such rhetoric as “the Zionist entity,” now favored by Hamas, al-Qaeda and company. For his sins, Nusseibeh, apparently without political ambitions, was appointed the PLO administrator over Jerusalem, even though, he recounts, he had many disagreements with Arafat; he vigorously pressed for approaching the post-9/11 American government with the aim of “reconstituting the Camp David alliance,” which, he charges, the Barak government repudiated. “Israelis and Palestinians,” he insists here, “are not enemies at all. . . . If anything, we are strategic allies”—allies who ought to be living at peace.

A humane, responsible entry in a discourse marked by irresponsible inhumanity.

Pub Date: April 3, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-29950-1

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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