In exploring the forces created between scientific, artistic, and political-activist groups and those who dictate international policy, Winkler (History/Miami University) provides a concise—if limited—review of public response to 50 years of global increase in nuclear arms. From its first explosion at Trinity Site, Winkler contends, the atom bomb not only permanently transformed the nature of warfare but revolutionized American participation in public policy as well. As the wave of American euphoria following the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave way to an undertow of horror, perhaps first felt among those who helped create the bomb, many nuclear scientists felt compelled for the first time to try to affect public policy. Their efforts to communicate likely dangers of a nuclear buildup to political leaders and the public led to the creation of such groups as the Federation of Atomic Scientists and of periodicals like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—which in turn, Winkler says, helped inspire more massively accessible artistic interpretations, such as Nevil Shute's On the Beach, innumerable 1950's sf movies, and Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth. These creative efforts, along with particularly disturbing nuclear events (the Chernobyl disaster; the Star Wars buildup, etc.), spurred massive if sporadic mobilization among the general public, and, in response, US governmental leaders were forced to at least appear to cut back on some nuclear excesses. Though citizen activism tended to dissolve once immediate goals were realized, mobilization at key points in the development of nuclear policy did have a decided effect. Winkler also believes that activism continues to offer the last best hope as we struggle with nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the nuclear strength of former Soviet republics, and the problem of nuclear-waste disposal. No surprises here, but Winkler's historical review is refreshingly balanced and neutral.

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-507821-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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