An American briefly imprisoned in his adopted Israel—for refusing to serve in the army on the West Bank—ponders the moral and practical implications of Israel's increasingly violent occupation of the territories. In these notes, made between dishwashing and other duties in a jail where Arabs are kept in a cell without water, Langfur explores and explains his deeply felt decision to resist. The army was once like a sacred calling to him; but Israel's occupation intervened—an occupation, he says, by ``a supposedly democratic people with a strong ethical tradition, sitting on top of another.'' To Langfur, it's not the decades-long Palestinian submission that's normal, but the Intifada—the Palestinians' attempt ``to shake us off.'' The author warns his fellow prisoners that unless Israel settles the Palestinian issue, technology acquired by the Arab states will. ``Forty years of inattention to the Palestinians has made the Arabs hate us all the more....In killing their children we condemn our grandchildren.'' Into his narrative of prison life flow Langfur's wide-ranging and thorough meditations on biblical passages, orthodox rituals, philosophical questions (Langfur has a doctorate in Religion and Culture from Syracuse Univ.), and the very geography (he now works as a tour guide) that ignites the strife. Typically, Langfur remembers standing ``on the ruin of the temple'' in ``biblical Shechem'' (in Nablus and now too dangerous to visit), imagining ``the tribes on the slopes of the mountains, as ordained in Deuteronomy (27:11- 17)....`Cursed, the man...who moves his neighbor's boundary.' '' An intense and persuasive call for Israelis to confront their consciences—and for others to consider some of the spiritual questions imbedded in the politics.

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8021-1482-2

Page Count: 267

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Outstanding in every respect.



When the Supreme Court declined to accept the appeal of a 1963 rape case, Justice Arthur Goldberg published an unusual dissent questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty. From this small beginning, Mandery (John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Q: A Novel, 2011, etc.) skillfully traces the building momentum within the country and the court to question the legality of a punishment the Founding Fathers took for granted.

Indeed, by 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the court struck down death penalty statutes so similar to those in 40 other states that executions nationwide came to a halt. Disagreement among Furman’s 5-4 majority—was the death penalty “cruel and unusual” punishment under the Eighth Amendment, or was its arbitrary application a violation under the 14th?—and a forceful dissent hinted at a blueprint for states to rewrite their capital-sentencing schemes. By 1976, 35 had done so. In Gregg v. Georgia and its companion cases, the court approved the revised statutes, opening the door to 1,300 state-sponsored executions since. Relying on interviews with law clerks and attorneys, information from economists, criminologists and social scientists, arguments from political and legal scholars, a thorough knowledge of all applicable cases and sure-handed storytelling, Mandery focuses on the strategies of the Legal Defense Fund, the remarkable attorneys who led the charge for abolition, to cover virtually every dimension of the capital punishment debate. The author is especially strong on the individual backgrounds, personalities and judicial philosophies of the justices, the shifting alliances among them and the frustrating contingencies upon which momentous decisions sometimes turn. Even those weary of this topic will be riveted by his insider information about towering figures, lawyers and judges.

Outstanding in every respect.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-23958-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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