A thorough and fair examination of an event whose mystery seems so misplaced.

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POGROM

KISHINEV AND THE TILT OF HISTORY

A re-examination of one of the most lavishly remembered events of Russian Jewish history that is also the most edited and misunderstood.

As Zipperstein (Jewish Culture and History/Stanford Univ.; Imagining Russian Jewry, 2015, etc.) shows, the April 1903 pogrom at Kishinev was neither the first nor the last atrocity against the Jews, but it stands out for a number of reasons. Due to the explosion of worldwide communications and Kishinev’s proximity to Europe, the news spread quickly. It was only 100 miles west of the notoriously porous Romanian border, favorable to unchecked smuggling and the dissemination of Czarist suppressed news. After the tragedy, there was a singular coherence of all Jewish political movements to condemn and provide relief. Michael Davitt and Hayyim Nahman Bialik, two writers, ensured that the news of Kishinev dominated the press. Both writers condemned Jewish male cowardice, but neither mentioned the 250 men who gathered to fight back, perhaps because it was ineffective. Throughout the decades since, debate has been robust, particularly regarding Bialik’s pogrom poem, “In the City of Killing,” which was intended as commemoration rather than history but was included in many courses of Jewish study. Like many politicized lessons, this ended up a product of half-truths, mythologies, and forgeries, even a century later. Looking for a cause of the massacre, the author points to Pavel Krushevan, an anti-Semitic local publisher whose publications were rife with blood libel. Zipperstein shows with little doubt Krushevan’s hand in fomenting the riot and his role as principal “author” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a ridiculous, fabricated text that nonetheless became the most influential anti-Semitic text ever produced. The author ably illustrates the wide influence of this pogrom, with comparisons to American violence against Southern blacks, the formation of the NAACP, and, especially, Hitler’s reliance on the Protocols.

A thorough and fair examination of an event whose mystery seems so misplaced.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-269-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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