A dense but intensely observed, eye-opening book.

THE UNSPOKEN ALLIANCE

ISRAEL’S SECRET RELATIONSHIP WITH APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA

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...

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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