For World War I and modern European history enthusiasts, this is a comprehensive work that ably conveys the disintegration...

RING OF STEEL

GERMANY AND AUSTRIA-HUNGARY IN WORLD WAR I

A British historian examines the desperate ethnic divisions roiling the Austro-Hungarian Empire that both propelled it to war in 1914 and undermined its success.

From the first decision to go to war after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the peace signed in Versailles in June 1919, Watson (History/Univ. of London; Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918, 2008) sifts carefully through the thinking and actions of the main Central Powers, the Habsburgs and the Germans, in provoking a European conflagration against enemies of superior numbers and military might (the Russians, British and French). Punishing Serbia for the assassinations meant bringing in its powerful ally Russia, but Watson argues that the sprawling multiethnic Austria-Hungary had largely lost control of its nationalist pockets and feared a “domino effect” if this insurgency was not violently crushed. Indeed, the empire’s dangerously paranoid statesmen promoted war out of “a profound sense of weakness, fear and even despair.” Germany was also operating from a place of deep insecurity regarding France, Russia and Britain, and Watson shows how Chief of the German General Staff Helmuth von Moltke was rather more “defensive and reactive” than saber-rattling. Thus the Central Powers were able to sell the war to the people as a defensive action, surrounded as they were by hostile enemies—“a ring of steel.” The “pervasive sense of threat” to the community translated initially into a patriotic spur to mobilization, but it morphed into suspicion and vigilantism as refugees from the eastern war zones of Galicia flooded into the interior and provoked ethnic hostilities and anti-Semitism. The German atrocities in Belgium and Russians’ in Galicia, the Ottomans’ treatment of the Armenians and the ultimate claim that “security” was the German Reich’s ultimate goal—all of this paved the way for Nazi genocide.

For World War I and modern European history enthusiasts, this is a comprehensive work that ably conveys the disintegration of empire.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0465018727

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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

NIGHT

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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

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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