Categories
Books

Shifting Sands: Turmoil In The Middle East

The tumult currently gripping the Arab world is fundamentally rooted in events of a century ago. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire, followed by the political and territorial order that suppplanted it, have been the major causes of the instability that besets the Middle East today. This is the thesis propounded by Avi Shlaim in […]

Categories
Books

Dachau — A Laboratory Of Terror

Dachau was an “academy of violence,” as Christopher Dillon puts it in his chillingly informative book, Dachau & the SS, published by Oxford University Press. The first camp of its kind in Germany, it was a template for the Nazi concentration camp system — “a national school of violence” for the personnel who would go […]

Categories
Books

The Donmes Of Turkey

Overtly Muslim and covertly Jewish, and blending Jewish, Christian and Islamic beliefs and rituals, the Donmes were one of the most secretive sects in the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the republic of Turkey. A closed, tight-knit community bound by the Eighteen Commandments — a set of strict social and religious guidelines — they […]

Categories
Books

Nasser’s Peace

Egypt’s crushing defeat at the hands of Israel in the Six Day War created a crisis of confidence in the Egyptian government. Bouncing back from the depths of despair, President Gamal Abdul Nasser reacted to Israel’s victory by political and military means. In Nasser’s Peace: Egypt’s Response to the 1967 War With Israel (Transaction Publishers), […]

Categories
Books

The Vel D’Hiv Raid

Seventy five years ago this month, the collaborationist Vichy regime in France committed its worst single crime. On July 16-17, 1942, French police in Paris rounded up 13,152 stateless Jews — men, women and children — and consigned them to purgatory. Some were taken to a detention camp in Drancy, near Paris. The rest were […]

Categories
Books

The Ba’athification Of Iraq

Iraq’s dictatorial strongman, Saddam Hussein, ruled his country with an iron hand, tolerating no dissension. Barring a coup or fatal illness, he could have governed Iraq indefinitely had he kept his nose to the grindstone. But being guided by hubris and wildly false assumptions, he made the major mistake of invading neighboring Kuwait on August […]

Categories
Books

The Invisible Jewish Budapest

Assimilated Hungarian Jews were in the forefront of shaping the popular┬áculture of late 19th and early 20th century Budapest, one of the capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and one of the major cities in Europe today. Its edgy nightlife and innovative entertainment industry, encompassing coffee houses, clubs, music halls and theatres, were largely the creation […]

Categories
Books

The Rise And Fall Of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood, the most organized and cohesive political force in Egypt following the collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian government in 2011, ruled the country from 2012 to 2013. During this interim period, Mohammed Morsi was at Egypt’s helm as its first democratically elected president. Morsi squandered the opportunity the electorate had handed him, catalyzing […]

Categories
Books

Bringing Zion Home

It probably will come as no surprise that American Jews formed a binding relationship with Israel through culture and food rather than through politics. During the first two decades of Israel’s existence, they bonded with the new state by reading books about it, buying Israeli crafts, paintings and apparel, attending concerts by Israeli musicians and […]

Categories
Books

Holocaust Landscapes

The Holocaust was not a single, monolithic event but rather a series of events that unfolded in different places at different times, a theme British scholar Tim Cole deftly pursues in Holocaust Landscapes, published by Bloomsbury. Cole, a social historian at Bristol University who’s written several books about the Holocaust, explores it from various vantage […]