Book Reviews


Perhaps the following comments on some recent books might be of interest to our bunch.

I finally finished Tony Judt's large volume  Postwar: Europe since 1945.  It is an excellent book with a lot of information and insights into the evolution of this sub-continent. Judt has been in the media lately as a commentator on the over-hyped Annapolis Conference on the Mid-East.

His book ends with an epilogue taking the form of a broad condemnation of the prevalent anti-Semitism of pre-war Europe. He criticizes just about every nation, France and the Netherlands especially, and of course, Germany and Austria. I think the comments are fair; I have a volume called Verdict on Vichy  by Michael Curtis which documents the eagerness of French society to turn on the Jews. This book is not a good read as it is quite repetitious, although well researched.

I think Judt should have reflected on the treatment being dished out to the Palestinians by the state of Israel and tried to resolve the issue of human behavior when faced with a minority in their midst that is not accepted by the mass of the citizenry. Their is not much disparity between the European and Israeli abuses.

A very well written book is that by Mearsheimer and Walt- The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.  They have been heavily criticized, as one would expect so this effort on their part took some courage. The "Lobby" has usually sent out a guy named Abraham Fox from the  Anti-Defamation League   to counter the authors, but he is not up to the task. On the interviews I saw on PBS and heard on CBC Radio Mearsheimer was able to prevail quite handily. I have also read a long critique on the web and this really avoided speaking to the main points raised in the book.

What is rather disturbing is the ability of the "Lobby" to terminate the political career of any Congressman who even mildly suggests that Palestinians deserve better treatment than is being dished out by the State. Jimmy Carter is quoted-  "It's almost politically suicidal ... for a member of the Congress who wants to seek reelection to take any stand that might be interpreted as anti-policy of the conservative Israeli government."  They show many examples. Senator Lieberman running with financial support from AIPAC as an independent defeats Ned Lamont running as a Democrat. The defeats of Senator Lincoln Chafee, Representative Pete McCloskey, Senators J. William Fulbright and Roger Jepson, Senator Adlai Stevenson when he ran for governor of Illinois, and Senator Charles Percy were engineered by the "Lobby" in retribution for not supporting Israel 100%. He mentions the revision in Hillary's policy towards a Palestinian state which she advocated in 1998 but is now silent on. 

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, has recently written a paper entitled Reckoning: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush which is an overview of the present- day US economy. Stiglitz is a known anti-globalization warrior but this paper deals largely with the domestic US situation. It was published in Vanity Fair  but can also be seen on the Common Dreams  web site at

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