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``ONE HELL OF A GAMBLE''

KHRUSHCHEV, CASTRO, AND KENNEDY, 1958-1964

One of the best pieces of research to have emerged as a result of the opening of the Russian archives, a subtle, nuanced, and vivid history of the Cuban missile crisis—the East-West showdown that brought the world close to nuclear war. The story from the US side is fairly well known, but historians Fursenko (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Naftali (Yale) have made good use of KGB records and Khrushchev's own files to convey the sense of inferiority, uncertainty, belligerence, and, ultimately, prudence that characterized the Soviet leader's approach. In the early stages of Castro's revolution, Moscow was no more sure about the Cuban leader than the US was. But the triumph of the Cuban revolution, a contempt for Kennedy (thought to be weak), and a certain recklessness seem to have persuaded Khrushchev to station missiles in Cuba. As an avid reader of intelligence reports, he was aware of the U-2 flights, but he and his closest advisers seem to have dismissed the likelihood that the presence of the missiles would be discovered. His initial reaction on learning that Kennedy was aware of the lurking threat was to hurry the delivery of the warheads. The first were delivered (though not installed) just before the blockade was imposed. This was the critical moment: Senior members of Congress were pressing for an invasion. But Kennedy had become convinced that an air strike preceding the invasion could not take out all the missiles. It would be, he said, ``one hell of a gamble.'' Khrushchev, for his part, had become aware of the extent of Soviet military inferiority. As the authors put it, he ``did not have the desire to threaten nuclear war when it might actually lead to one.'' The story traces with rich detail the maneuvering, the calculations, the human errors, and the enormous stakes involved in the most serious crisis of the last 50 years.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-04070-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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