The subtitle here is somewhat misleading: This is not so much about Berlin as about the petty and insignificant wrangles and crises involving the four Allied occupying powers (the US, the USSR, France, and Great Britain) of the city that became ``the pivot of the Cold War,'' focusing on the period between the end of WW II and the building of the infamous wall that cleaved Berlin in August 1961. Tusa, a British historian who specializes in postwar Germany, is an exhaustive researcher but an often stolid narrator, given to minutiae. She does, however, do an excellent job in profiling the Russian, British, French, and American leaders drawn into the battle over Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s. For the most part, though, her work plods along, detailing diplomatic impasse after impasse, particularly after Khrushchev threatened in November 1958 to block the Western powers' air, rail, and highway access to Berlin. Fortunately, Tusa's work comes to life in the long section describing events before, during, and immediately after the wall's construction, and in her brief summary of events leading up to the wall's destruction in 1989. She reveals that the three Western powers were woefully unprepared for the crisis—they were focused on the city's accessibility rather than its possible physical division—and responded to it very uncertainly. President Kennedy ultimately sent Vice President Johnson and Lucius Clay to the city; his own celebrated visit came only two years later). Yet even a wall ultimately could not stanch the desire of the East Germany's citizens to escape their socioeconomic and political nightmare, particularly after the hopes raised by perestroika in the mid- 1980s. This solid but overly long work will be of interest mainly to aficionados of the Cold War and of postwar diplomatic history. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-201-14399-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1997

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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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