AN HONOURABLE DEFEAT

THE FIGHT AGAINST NATIONAL SOCIALISM IN GERMANY, 1933-1945

A succinct, informative, and well-written history of attempts by Germans to kill or overthrow Hitler. Gill, an Anglo-German historian (A Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Wars, p. 192), focuses largely on the resistance network within the German ``establishment'': the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, the Foreign Office, the Abwehr (German secret service), and, above all, the army. Focusing on the years 193844, he chronicles such key events as the coup d'Çtat planned by a group of officers at the time of the Munich crisis, a coup they would have implemented had Hitler gone to war instead of winning major concessions from British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Such efforts culminated in the July 20, 1944, near-miss of a bomb assassination attempt against Hitler by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. It resulted in massive bloodletting against thousands of real and suspected conspirators, was widely denounced within the Third Reich, and was undervalued both abroad and in postwar West Germany, but a July 1944 New York Times editorial aptly called the bombing an ``honorable treason.'' In colorful prose, the author demonstrates how possible anti-Nazi uprisings and assassination attempts were repeatedly thwarted by the conspirators' dawdling and individual failures of nerve, by Allied (particularly British) indifference and mistrust of the conspirators, and by bad luck. He scants communist resistance, although he does delve into the White Rose and other German student groups. Unfortunately, Gill makes almost no mention of Germans who hid or otherwise aided Jews, political dissidents, or those threatened by the ``euthanasia'' campaign. Still, he skillfully uses German and English sources and provides a chart illustrating the resistance network and a ``Who's Who'' of anti-Hitler conspirators. Like the late Barbara Tuchman, Gill has deftly synthesized scholarly and more popular historical writing to produce an impressively accessible and interesting work. (Maps, 25 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-3514-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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