Reads like the best suspense fiction.



Kershaw (The Few, 2006, etc.) fashions a gripping, novelistic account of the U.S. submarine Tang’s tragic final patrol.

By August 1944, the Tang, a state-of-the-art torpedo-laden vessel under the guidance of Commander Richard O’Kane, had proven itself a formidable hunter of Japanese shipping. The tide was turning against the Japanese in the Pacific, as effective American technology allowed submarines to sink far below the surface to evade depth charges. In just four patrols, the cocky, ambitious, New Hampshire-born O’Kane had engineered the sinking of 17 ships. He was eager to embark on his fifth patrol, to the perilous enemy-lined Formosa Strait. By early October, the Tang had weathered an ominous typhoon, as well as a fall by the commander that left him with a broken foot. Once in the strait, the submarine successfully sank a convoy of Japanese cargo ships, emptying most of its torpedoes. Incredibly, the last torpedo, Number 24, boomeranged and headed straight back to strike the Tang. Half of the 87-member crew were killed instantly. When the fatally wounded submarine hit bottom, a handful of men miraculously escaped to the surface through the torpedo tubes. (They were equipped with Momsen Lungs, which took carbon dioxide from the air they exhaled, enriched it with oxygen and recycled it.) After floating for hours in the water, nine survivors, including O’Kane, were picked up by Japanese lifeboats. Surprisingly, the vengeful Japanese did not kill them outright, though they endured a harrowing period of captivity, subjected to interrogation, torture and starvation. On August 28, 1945, 19 days after the U.S. atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki, the men were rescued by a U.S. destroyer. Stitched together from first-person accounts, Kershaw’s action-packed, character-driven narrative of this extraordinary crew’s exploits concludes with a poignant wrap-up of the survivors’ later years.

Reads like the best suspense fiction.

Pub Date: May 26, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-306-81519-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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