February 8, 2016

A Review of Austin Camacho’s Beyond Blue: Police Procedural with a Twist

In Beyond Blue, Austin Camacho, author of nine previous mysteries, brings a new twist to the police procedural crime genre. Instead of one protagonist, there are six, all of whom work for an organization dedicated to help the NYC police department take care of problems they don’t seem to be able to handle on their own. Funded by the Arab father of a 9/11 victim, Beyond Blue Investigations takes on cases such as an officer who has been undercover for too long and one who is falling apart because his wife is threatening to divorce him. They are also investigating a smuggling operation at JFK and a lawyer who has made a career of out getting crooks off by damaging […]
February 8, 2016

My review of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The Good Lord Bird is a tour de force–the recreation of the last days of the abolitionist John Brown told through the eyes of a young slave who accompanied Brown on his last campaigns. No wonder it won the National Book Award for 2013. But The Good Lord Bird is much more than historical fiction. It serves as a treatise on race, gender, religion, as well as worthy and lost causes. What makes this novel work so well is the honesty of young Henry whose nickname Onion spared him from having to answer to a girl’s name despite the fact that he pretended to be one. Onion tells the reader “like it is,” including his own many shortcomings. Onion/McBride’s portrait […]
November 7, 2015

I review Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me, which is structured as a letter to his fifteen year old son by Baltimore native Ta-Nehisi Coates, is a rejection of and an indictment of the United States––its origins, its history, its people. To that end it demands a rebuttal. No one has the right to deny Coates interpretation of his experience, to deny what it was like growing up as he did in poverty in Baltimore in the last quarter of the 20th century. He eloquently describes the incidents that led him to his negative conclusions about this country, including the odds weighted against him on the street and in school. Counterposing those experiences, however, was his family life. He was blessed by a […]
July 22, 2015

Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (2007) by Amy Dockser Marcus

On the basis of her 2007 study Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Amy Dockser Marcus, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, was invited to be a consultant on the PBS Special “Roots of Conflict” that premiered June 30 of this year. After reviewing the PBS Special, I felt obligated to read Marcus’ book, and am glad that I did. Marcus’ thesis in Jerusalem 1913, which is echoed in the PBS documentary, is that Arabs, Jews, and Christians lived in relative harmony in Jerusalem in 1913, but that harmony was irrevocably upset by the Zionist movement and its drive to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. She tells her story through several individuals, each of whom sees the impending […]
July 12, 2015

The Israeli Solution: A Review (Part Two)

The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East by Caroline Glick (Crown Forum, 2014) In Part One of my review of Caroline Glick’s The Israeli Solution, I describe her rationale for rejecting the two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that has been a leading policy objective of presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Glick argues that advocates of that “solution” incorrectly claim that giving the Palestinians their own state will reduce violence in the region. Events, including the escalating Sunni-Shi’a conflict, the rise of ISIS, the dissolution of Syria, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, should put that thesis to bed. Under Barack Obama, the U.S. has increased pressure on Israel to accept a two-state solution. In his “New […]
June 25, 2015

The Israeli Solution, A Review, Part I: The Two-State Chimera*

Seminal, must read works exist in literature, philosophy, and political theory. For example, can one study the Cold War without having read George Kennan or discuss ethics without having read Rawls? In that vein, anyone who seeks to defend a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to have read Caroline Glick’s The Israeli Solution (2013). Since Glick’s book is fairly recent, you are forgiven if you haven’t heard of it or haven’t got around to reading it. My hope is that this review will convince you to remedy that lapse. The first part of this review covers Glick’s analysis of the two-state solution; her alternative is the subject of part two. In part one of The Israeli Solution, Glick, who […]