An optimistic, evenhanded instruction manual, with upbeat illustrations, for anyone trying to understand the conflict.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT ISRAEL?

A GUIDE FOR THE CURIOUS, CONFUSED, AND CONFLICTED

A self-described liberal American Jew earnestly and humanely parses the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Acknowledging the passionate feelings surrounding the conflict on both sides, Sokatch, who runs the New Israel Fund, starts from the fair-minded position that Israelis and Palestinians are both right and both wrong, “two peoples, both with legitimate connections and claims to the land, who have been victimized by the outside world, each other, and themselves.” In a two-part narrative enhanced by Noxon’s illustrations, Sokatch first delves into the biblical history of the destruction of the Second Temple and dispersion of the Jews in 70 C.E. and the development of the two main Jewish cultures, Sephardic and Ashkenazi. The author moves on to Zionism and its various facets, with a sidebar exploring the question, “Is Zionism justifiable?” He then examines the existence of a people already on the ground when European Zionists arrived, raising the question of who has the more ancient legitimacy. (The likely truth, he writes, is that both peoples probably descend from the same stock.) With the rise of Jewish nationalism in the late 19th century, Palestinian Arab nationalists began to define themselves in direct opposition to the Zionists, and Jewish-Arab violence predictably increased. The author moves steadily from independence and the displacement of the Palestinians through the seemingly endless series of depressing, tumultuous conflicts that have plagued the region ever since. In the second part of the book, Sokatch addresses thorny issues that “make people crazy” about the conflict, including discrepancies between actual territory versus what the maps denote; the fraught history of U.S.–Israel relations; the effects of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; and the increase in power of Christian evangelicals. The author closes with a “Lexicon of the Conflict,” a highly useful tool offering further context to the narrative and the issues at hand.

An optimistic, evenhanded instruction manual, with upbeat illustrations, for anyone trying to understand the conflict.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-387-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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