For all its wealth of tales of espionage and intrigue, the narrative is bone dry and repetitive. Le Carré fans, be warned:...




A tale of the forgotten heroes of the German resistance—forgotten because few Americans, at least, ever noticed them in the first place.

It was a matter of Allied policy, spearheaded by the American government, to demand unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. That policy, argue von Hassell—the grandson of an executed resistance leader—and MacRae, “left the ‘other Germany’ not even the smallest toehold,” since no electoral argument could be made that by deposing Hitler and his regime, Germany might be saved. The result was that the military officers who made up a good part of the resistance—which, unlike in France, was never coordinated, and not very effective—were forced to seek Hitler’s removal by other means, leading to attempted assassinations and coups. One of the most interesting of the resistance figures, for various reasons, was German military intelligence chief Wilhelm Canaris, whose initial enthusiasm for the Nazi regime was tempered well before the onset of war. Canaris’s Abwehr (the German intelligence organization) became a fertile recruiting ground for Allied spymasters seeking double agents, though when those spymasters—notable among them Allen Dulles—reported to Washington that the Nazi state had influential domestic enemies, they were ignored. Though the book’s subtitle is overstated, von Hassell and MacRae turn up a few interesting matters that history has overlooked or merely glanced at once or twice, including American efforts to stave off war (abandoned, they assert, because his advisors worried in the 1940 election year that FDR might be “accused of appeasement”). FDR’s emissary was a General Motors executive with many contacts inside the Reich, where American corporations did a solid trade; von Hassell and MacRae extend the list of companies guilty of “trading with the enemy” to include Kodak, another small bit of news.

For all its wealth of tales of espionage and intrigue, the narrative is bone dry and repetitive. Le Carré fans, be warned: It takes doing to make wartime Istanbul seem drab.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-32369-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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