A relentless, hard-hitting, ultimately one-note polemic.

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STATE OF TERROR

HOW TERRORISM CREATED MODERN ISRAEL

A chronicle of Zionist sins since the beginning of the “settler project” in the 1920s to the 1956 Suez Crisis.

London-based professional violinist and author Suárez (Palestine Sixty Years Later, 2010, etc.) is careful to first define Zionist “terrorism” before he launches into his systematic, chronological account of how it played out in the Jewish settling of Mandatory Palestine. If terrorism means the violent targeting of civilians, then the “ethno-national movement of Zionism,” which accomplished the appropriation of non-Jewish land over many decades, even if it meant “making life so miserable for [Palestinians] that they [left] ‘of their own accord,’ ” certainly fit the bill. Moreover—and this is where Suárez is most sharply provocative—the early Zionists also targeted Jews themselves, such as pressuring post–World War II displaced persons to settle in Palestine as well as kidnapping Jewish orphans to keep them from being raised Christian. Not surprisingly, the author blames Europe’s Zionist leaders—Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion et al.—for propounding an extraordinary kind of messianism, a biblical Israel that was “not subject to norms applicable to the rest of the world.” Suárez concentrates on the highly organized violence of Hagana splinter groups Irgun and Lehi from 1939 through the founding of the state: both were anti-Palestinian and anti-British. Yet these terrorist groups also targeted Jewish “traitors.” The author emphasizes the anti-Semitic nature of Zionism in creating “a permanent state of emergency” for which a Jewish state in Palestine was the only answer. Eventually, the book becomes a lengthy litany of Zionist terrorist attacks and the employment of “confusion and war weariness” to push for its political objectives, namely to assume all of Palestine and not just what was granted at Partition in late 1947. The author’s theme is that Partition, and thus statehood, was essentially gained by Zionist terrorism.

A relentless, hard-hitting, ultimately one-note polemic.

Pub Date: July 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56656-068-9

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Olive Branch/Interlink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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