A dense but intensely observed, eye-opening book.




Rhodes scholar and Foreign Affairs senior editor Polakow-Suransky tracks the rise and fall of an ignoble “collaboration” between two countries with deeply troubling histories of racism.

How could the young state of Israel embrace apartheid South Africa and become its greatest arms supplier? According to the author in this pointed exposé, the 1967 Six-Day War propelled Israel from a socialist to imperialist state, and the moral rectitude of early founders David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir gave way to the realpolitik of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. While Meir had cemented relations with several African countries in the late ’50s by virtue of their shared dream of redeeming their respective lands from oppressors, the reaction to Israel’s increasing aggression was opprobrium. Nonetheless, Israel’s economy needed a market for its sophisticated arms exports. Similarly, South Africa was growing increasingly isolated among democratic nations because of its repugnant apartheid policies. However, the country had a rich source of uranium needed for nuclear weapons. By the early ’60s, the pieces for “savvy sourcing and subterfuge” were in place, as Polakow-Suransky systematically demonstrates. Thanks to secretly purchased South African yellowcake, Israel developed its own nuclear capabilities, while defense officials Peres and Moshe Dayan ensured the arms industry maintained a good relationship with South Africa, their “ideal customer: a developing country with a defense-conscious, right-wing government that did not have close ties to the Arab-Muslim bloc.” The author traces the fallout as world opinion excoriated both regimes, though most chilling is his prescient analogy between the now defunct structure of apartheid and Israel’s current “circumscribed existence” for the Palestinians.

A dense but intensely observed, eye-opening book.

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-42546-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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