BEN-GURION'S SPY

THE STORY OF THE POLITICAL SCANDAL THAT SHAPED MODERN ISRAEL

An overlong recounting of a long-past Israeli political scandal. Teveth is a former political correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and the biographer of the country's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion (Ben Gurion: The Burning Ground, 1987). This new book's subtitle suggests a Watergate-like event, but the Lavon Affair—covered here in exhausting detail—does not seem to have permanently sullied Ben-Gurion's reputation or the fortunes of his political heirs, including Shimon Peres, the current prime minister. This 1950s scandal originated with shady operatives picked by Ben-Gurion's defense minister, Pinhas Lavon. The heavies are unscrupulous scamps like the head of Israeli intelligence, Binyamin Givly, and playboy/double agent Avri Elad, whose rashness, incompetence, and immorality led to a bombing campaign in Egypt in 1954 that had damaging repercussions for Israel, and to the deaths of several agents spying for Israel in Egypt. While Lavon and Ben- Gurion are ultimately responsible for the controversial acts of sabotage in Egypt, they seem too far up the chain of command to be considered active conspirators in these events. Teveth thinks otherwise and also insists that ``there is enough evidence to prove that without the Lavon Affair, Menahem Begin's Likud Party would not have come to power.'' But, as he admits, Labor's decline is widely linked to unpreparedness for the Yom Kippur War. Teveth is more on target when he credits the scandal with preventing the army and intelligence services from getting too independent and powerful. Compelling characters like Elad and the loyal army secretary who lies for generals and prime ministers (and lies down with them) offer dramatic potential, but the possibilities are not exploited by Teveth's flat writing style.

Pub Date: June 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-231-10464-2

Page Count: 297

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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