A significant contribution to contemporary political discourse.

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THE LIONS' DEN

ZIONISM AND THE LEFT FROM HANNAH ARENDT TO NOAM CHOMSKY

An astute study of how the political cauldron of the Middle East has generated fierce responses from the left.

Linfield (Journalism/New York Univ.; The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, 2010) offers a trenchant analysis of the seemingly intractable Palestinian-Israeli conflict through an examination of eight prominent left-wing intellectuals: Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, Maxime Rodinson, Isaac Deutscher, Albert Memmi, Fred Halliday, I.F. Stone, and Noam Chomsky. Each professed strong views on Zionism, which Linfield defines as “support for a democratic state for the Jewish people.” In a series of linked, deftly delineated portraits, the author reveals fraught debate marked by both “fearless intellectual energy” and, too often, the dismaying imposition of “fantasy, symbol, metaphor, and theory overtaking reality and history.” Many of her subjects, like Arendt, held an “ideological antipathy to sovereignty” that made them critical of Zionism. Some, like the combative Koestler, a self-loathing Jew, “insisted that there was no Jewish history and culture” to merit statehood for “a chosen people.” Rodinson, a French scholar of Islam, believed that Palestinians, as victims of colonial oppression, were justified in their one unifying stance: hostility to Israel. That stance was echoed by Chomsky, whose hatred for Israel and championing of Palestine Linfield criticizes as arrogant and ignorant, based on “manufactured history” and “staggering” misrepresentations. In contrast, she praises Memmi and Halliday for their principled, humane analyses. Memmi saw Zionism as “the national liberation movement of an oppressed people,” worthy of support by the left. Halliday, an activist, journalist, multilinguist, and scholar, condemned the “profound mistakes” and crimes committed by both Zionist and Palestinian movements. Both Memmi and Halliday concurred that support for terrorism was indefensible: “a short circuit that substitutes immediate fear and panicky responses for long-term solutions.” Like Linfield, Halliday advocated the establishment of two democratic states of Israel and Palestine. Besides presenting an unusually clear and informed history of the Arab-Israeli struggle, the author throws a glaring light on the perils of fanaticism and insularity.

A significant contribution to contemporary political discourse.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-300-22298-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

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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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