The essays are densely composed, sometimes presupposing extensive reader knowledge about American military and diplomatic...

THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN

The Pulitzer Prize winner builds on his reputation as an iconic investigative journalist, skewering the conventional wisdom about the death of Osama bin Laden.

In four linked essays originally published by the London Review of Books, Hersh (Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, 2004, etc.) excoriates President Barack Obama, some of his national security aides, and members of the military for allegedly lying repeatedly about covert international maneuvering. Although satisfied that bin Laden is indeed dead at the hands of the U.S. military, the author wonders how Pakistani leaders could have been unaware that the terrorist financier and spiritual leader was residing in their midst. Hersh questions the White House version of how bin Laden was discovered inside his housing compound, whether American Special Forces acted independently of the Pakistanis, and whether bin Laden's body ended up at the bottom of the ocean, as publicly stated. The title essay focuses on bin Laden, while the other three build on that topic to delve into American conduct in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, and other countries invaded by the U.S. under George W. Bush and Obama. To push his compelling scenarios and larger themes about the government's "high-level lying,” Hersh relies heavily on unnamed sources—even more than much of his previous reporting for the New York Times or the New Yorker. His reliance on anonymous sources has led to questioning of his newspaper, magazine, and book exposés dating back to the 1960s, but his reputation for accurate journalism remains intact with numerous editors and readers.

The essays are densely composed, sometimes presupposing extensive reader knowledge about American military and diplomatic involvement in the affairs of geographically remote nations. Context beyond the content of the London Review of Books pieces would have added value to Hersh's reporting.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78478-436-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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