THE WORDS OF MY FATHER

LOVE AND PAIN IN PALESTINE

An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

Bashir delivers an urgent, impassioned call for peace between Palestine and Israel.

The words of the Palestinian peace activist’s father are, on the surface, incontestable: Strive for peace, he insisted, for “violence only leads to more violence.” Yet, during the second intifada and in the face of the intransigence of Israel’s government in dividing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and barring movement between the two Palestinian areas, striving for peace became a difficult proposition to hold up—and one that was particularly difficult to defend in a time of growing militance. By Bashir’s account, the plot of land that his educator father had so carefully improved, building the soil, planting trees by the hundreds and crops by the row, became a dust bowl under a de facto Israeli siege. Moreover, an Israeli soldier shot him for reasons that he finds inexplicable today, paralyzing him for a long period and requiring multiple surgeries. Years later, writes the author, even as he mourns the passing of his father and the loss of the land that his father took pains to tell him was his forever, he found himself thinking obsessively of that transformational event and the Israeli soldier behind the gun. “That single shot had changed my whole life,” he writes, “and I wondered if it had changed his.” In the end, the story comes full circle, as Bashir travels the world to convey the message of peace in the Middle East, the bullet in his back, as he puts it, moving him forward and not restraining him. There is some bitterness nonetheless, especially when he recounts that Israeli soldiers commandeered all the cooking vessels in his family home and then left them behind, each full of feces. Even with that insult, in this eloquent and affecting memoir he adopts another remark of his father’s as his own: “What happened to me makes me believe even more in peace.”

An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291732-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview