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Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel: American Gangster

He was a bootlegger, racketeer, gambler, murderer and casino operator. Active through the 1920s, 1930s and much of the 1940s, Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel was a notorious Jewish gangster. A close associate of the hoodlums Meyer Lansky and Charles (Lucky) Luciano, he was a principal in the Syndicate, an amalgam of Italian, Irish and Jewish mobsters […]

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Winston Churchill And The Middle East

As colonial secretary in British Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s government from 1919 to 1922, Winston Churchill exerted considerable influence in moulding the Middle East. He was instrumental in laying the foundations of Iraq and Transjordan, the future Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. And in line with the seminal 1917 Balfour Declaration, he supported the establishment […]

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Mike Nichols: A Life

Michael Igor Peschkowsky, a young Jewish immigrant from Nazi Germany, transformed himself into Mike Nichols in the United States. He became a struggling actor, an acclaimed standup comedian and a celebrated movie, theater and television director.¬†Mark Harris, in his thorough biography, Mike Nichols: A life (Penguin Press), traces the trajectory of his luminous career. Born […]

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Syrian Requiem

Of all the books I’ve read about the ongoing civil war in Syria, Syrian Requiem: The Civil War And Its Aftermath is the best of the lot. Written by the Israeli scholars Itamar Rabinovich and Carmit Valensi and published by Princeton University Press, it is concise yet comprehensive, scholarly yet accessible. The authors are distinguished […]

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War Of Shadows

As Germany conquered one Western European country after another in 1940, Britain and Italy fought ferocious battles in Libya and Egypt, while the Italian Air Force bombed Tel Aviv and Haifa. Germany intervened in the desert war in 1941, dispatching General Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps to assist its Italian ally, which had begin […]

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Right-Wing Extremism In Canada

Barbara Perry and Ryan Scrivens contend that there have been too few attempts by academics to systematically analyze the ideologies and activities of right-wing extremists in Canada, resulting in a paucity of books and monographs on this important topic. “There can be little doubt, then, that a theoretically informed contemporary assessment is needed,” they believe. […]

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Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism And The Creation Of Israel

Britain laid the groundwork for the emergence of Israel when, in 1917, it promised to facilitate the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people within the boundaries of Palestine.Two of its leading politicians, Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour, played an integral and indispensable role in this historic process. […]

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Poland 1945

Poland emerged broken and destitute from the ashes of World War II. Six million of its inhabitants, Jews and Catholics alike, had been murdered or had died during the German and Russian invasions of September 1939. Several of its cities, notably Warsaw and Wroclaw, had been virtually destroyed. Polish journalist Magdalena Grzebalkowska offers an impressionistic […]

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The War Of Return

Of all of the thorny issues exacerbating¬†Israel’s protracted conflict with the Palestinians, the “right of return” is doubtless the most complex one. It turns on the unwavering demand by Palestinian refugees to go back to their original homes in what was Palestine and what has been Israel since its declaration of statehood in 1948. This […]

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The Last Million: Displaced Persons In Europe After World War II

When World War II ended in May of 1945, several million displaced Europeans, ranging from forced laborers to prisoners of war, found themselves in Germany, which Allied bombing raids had devastated and which was now occupied by American, British and Soviet armies. The vast majority of the refugees were repatriated to their respective homelands in […]