An artful, affecting blend of history, biography, political science, and religion and an illustration of how small lights...




The story of the Israeli 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade, which was instrumental in the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

In the ensuing years, the members of the 55th came to represent the deep political, cultural and religious divisions in Israel. Shalom Hartman Institute scholar Halevi (At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, 2001, etc.) relates the history of Israel from 1967 to the present by focusing on a handful of individuals from the old 55th and interweaving their divergent and arresting stories. There are, of course, somewhat detailed accounts of wars (1967, 1973—maps included), terrorist attacks, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and negotiations with the PLO and others, but for the most part, Halevi allows his cast members to tell their stories. Among them are Yisrael Harel, who became a journalist; Avital Geva, who eventually had a career in art that dovetailed with his kibbutz life; Yoel Bin-Nun, a Zionist and kibbutz leader; Arik Achmon, whose career varied from aviation to business consultation and politics; Meir Ariel, who became “the greatest Hebrew poet-singer of his generation,” then segued into religious studies; Udi Adiv, who became an active anti-Zionist, spent 12 years in prison and then earned a doctorate in London before returning to Israel to teach. Halevi also follows the personal lives of his principals, covering marriages, divorces, family relationships, and children, and he shows how some of them became political and religious opponents. Among the most divisive issues: the surrender of lands (the Sinai, the West Bank) gained in 1967, the issue of settlements in disputed territories, and the debate about “peace at any cost” and Zionism itself.

An artful, affecting blend of history, biography, political science, and religion and an illustration of how small lights can illuminate a large landscape.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-054576-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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