A modest but important account of a heroic movement.

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RED ORCHESTRA

THE STORY OF THE BERLIN UNDERGROUND AND THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS WHO RESISTED HITLER

Inspiring history of Germans who risked and mostly lost their lives to oppose the Nazis.

Journalist and playwright Nelson (Murder Under Two Flags: The U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Cerro Maravilla Cover-Up, 1986) emphasizes that the famous 1944 bomb plot by disaffected Army officers obscures the existence of substantial, ongoing resistance in the broader population. She tells their story through the eyes of Greta Kuckhoff, a rare survivor whose 1972 memoir of her antifascist activities was mangled by the dogmatic alterations of her East German editor. (Nelson got a look at the original manuscript.) Kuckhoff spent years 1927 to 1929 doing graduate work in economics at the University of Wisconsin, where she befriended several other German students later prominent in the resistance. All returned home to experience the Depression and the spectacular rise of the Nazi Party, which struck many of them as wildly irrational. Opposition was always strongest in Berlin, a vibrant city whose intellectuals and artists thought for themselves and whose millions of factory workers had more leftist sympathies than those in other cities. Kuckhoff and her friends struggled to make a living while meeting and plotting with likeminded comrades. A substantial number joined the civil service or the military and rose to high positions while passing information to the local underground or foreign diplomats. Kuckhoff fell in love with a popular writer and participated in groups dominated by intellectuals. Their sexism shunted her into minor tasks such as typing, which may have saved her life when her husband and most of their friends were caught, tortured and executed in 1942–43. Nelson admits that many resistance activities, such as printing and distributing leaflets, had no noticeable effect on the German war effort, and the Allies ignored a surprising amount of the information dissidents risked their lives to convey. Nonetheless, their courage and sacrifice deserves a permanent place in history books.

A modest but important account of a heroic movement.

Pub Date: April 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6000-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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