A brief look at what may surely be a historic class in American educational history—a subject worthy of deeper exploration.




The inaugural class of the first Islamic college in America share their hopes and dreams with a visiting journalist.

NYU instructor Korb (Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine, 2010, etc.) respectfully dogged the dozen or so students, founding teachers and imams of the fledgling Zaytuna College during the course of its first year in 2010-2011 as it drew closer to accreditation, balanced a curriculum between classical and modern teachings, and navigated a complex mission of educating Muslims in America. Attracting a startling diversity of Muslims, reflecting essentially the American makeup, Zaytuna (“olive,” named for the fruit that requires curing by human hands before being palatable and whose oil “offers light without fire”) was originally a Muslim seminary located in Hayward, Cal., since the mid-1990s, started by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir and others and originally modeled on a traditional Islamic madrassa. Evolving over time to encompass a permanent four-year college, Zaytuna embarked on a particularly precarious mission in the wake of a recent spate of Muslim violence (e.g., Fort Hood) to embrace a pious Muslim identity while finding “the good in the principles of American liberal arts.” Korb discovered that this was a difficult task, especially since most students hadn’t a clue how to pray or speak Arabic. Moreover, the bias against Muslims still simmered since 9/11, and suspicions about Muslims’ true loyalties in America were rampant. The charismatic directors maintained a high, idealistic approach to education, and they reminded skeptics that Harvard, Yale and Princeton all began as religious schools. In a blandly detailed narrative, Korb confronts the criticism lobbed continuously at the college around attitudes of Muslim allegiance, jihad and indoctrination.

A brief look at what may surely be a historic class in American educational history—a subject worthy of deeper exploration.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0807001639

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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