Will appeal primarily to specialists or to general readers with an abiding interest in Israel’s future.

THE INVENTION OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL

FROM HOLY LAND TO HOMELAND

A Jewish scholar harshly criticizes the founding narrative of the State of Israel.

The concept of “homeland” is a relatively new historical construct, “one of the more surprising, and perhaps the most destructive creations, of the modern era,” writes Sand (Contemporary History/Univ. of Tel Aviv; The Words and the Land: Israeli Intellectuals and the Nationalist Myth, 2011, etc.). From this general perspective and from the argument made in his highly controversial book, The Invention of the Jewish People (2010), which disputed the idea that Jews “belong to an ancient race-based people,” the author doubles down with an attack on the whole notion of an ancestral home for the world’s Jews. The idea of a Jewish homeland, he insists, is a turn-of-the-century Zionist invention (given urgency by the Holocaust), a political construct designed to lend moral legitimacy to the seizing of territory to which the Jews have no historical right. He accuses Zionists of getting not only the history wrong, but the religion too. Properly understood, he writes, the Holy Land is an allegorical, intangible expression of the faithful. Well aware of the incendiary implications of his argument and knowing that it will likely be willfully misunderstood both by anti-Semites and zealous nationalists, Sand maintains that his deconstruction of the mythology at the heart of Israel’s founding is a necessary prerequisite to a “pragmatic and realistic” resolution of the current conflict with Palestinians. The author attempts, but does not fully succeed, in lightening the relentlessly professorial prose with a few personal anecdotes—his placid complicity in the murder of a Palestinian, a great-grandfather buried on the Mount of Olives, the uncommemorated Arab village that once occupied the site of the Israeli university where he teaches. However, these demonstrate that, unlike many of his prominent Zionist critics, he has some skin in the game.

Will appeal primarily to specialists or to general readers with an abiding interest in Israel’s future.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84467-946-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more