Hochschild ably explores subtle shades of the conflict that contemporary authors and participants did not want to consider.



A nuanced look at the messy international allegiances forged during the Spanish Civil War.

Accomplished historian and Mother Jones co-founder Hochschild (To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, 2011, etc.) considers every facet of this complicated civil war, using personal narratives of some of the participants, especially the Americans in the Lincoln Brigade, for elucidation and depth. The war was not a clear-cut idealistic struggle between Republican and Fascist, good and bad, although the author delineates well how both sides had hoped it would be. With Francisco Franco’s right-wing military coup of July 1936, launched from Spanish Morocco and amply supplied by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the Nationalists were on a reactionary mission to purge the country of the democratically elected Popular Front government, communists, union members, and anyone left-leaning and anti-Catholic. Hochschild points out that the revolution was very much a social upheaval, in which the class system was abolished, women were emancipated, and workers were allowed to own the farmland that they toiled. On one hand, the socialist euphoria erupting in the Basque and Catalonia regions attracted many left-leaning sympathizers in America and Europe, such as Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. On the other hand, that very “virus of bolshevism” scared many conservative governments from offering military aid—e.g., England and isolationist-gripped America, where an arms embargo against Spain was declared and niftily skirted by Texaco’s chief Torkild Rieber, who supplied the oil for the German planes to bomb the country into submission. In desperation, Republican leaders reached out to the Soviet Union for military aid, further complicating the political mix. The author looks at the poignant stories of young American couples who helped galvanize world opinion while sacrificing their dreams for the bitter, brutal, anti-fascist struggle that proved merely the warm-up for the world war to come.

Hochschild ably explores subtle shades of the conflict that contemporary authors and participants did not want to consider.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-97318-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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