A brisk, engrossing work of investigative journalism.



The story of a hostage takeover that shocked the country.

On March 9, 1977, nearly 150 people were taken hostage at B’nai B’rith headquarters in Washington, D.C., “the largest and oldest Jewish service organization in America,” and two other sites, an attack orchestrated by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, the Sunni leader of the Hanafi movement. Mining thousands of documents from FBI files and Department of Justice records, trial transcripts, and interviews with five of the hostage takers and more than a dozen hostages, journalist Mufti fashions a tense, often grisly account of the events leading up to the two-day standoff and the arrests, trial, and aftermath of “the largest hostage taking in American history and the first such attack by Muslims on American soil.” Born Ernest Timothy McGee in 1922, Khaalis changed his name when he joined the Nation of Islam. After serving as a close aide to the organization’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, Khaalis derided the Nation as a corrupt “self-serving family oligarchy.” Aligning himself with a new spiritual master, he formed a rival group, which attracted support from basketball star Lew Alcindor, whom Khaalis renamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Mufti recounts violent conflicts and fractured leadership both within and among American Muslim groups. In 1973, the Nation’s wrath against Khaalis led to the gory massacre of seven members of his family, including children. Even after some perpetrators were convicted, Khaalis felt “spurned by American justice.” One of his hostage demands was that the men who killed his family be brought to him for justice. Another was that the release of a biopic about the life of Muhammad be stopped and the film reels destroyed. Although Khaalis’ anger, desire for revenge, religious convictions, and psychological demons fueled the siege, Mufti places the event in the larger context of America’s involvement in the tumultuous history of the Middle East, South Asia, and northern Africa.

A brisk, engrossing work of investigative journalism.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-20858-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet