Essential reading for anyone interested in World War II.

READ REVIEW

ARDENNES 1944

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE

Award-winning military historian Beevor (The Second World War, 2012, etc.) examines the Battle of the Bulge in-depth, with a detailed order of battle for all the combatants, a full array of maps, and extensive quotations from original sources, including secretly taped comments by German officers in British POW camps.

The result is a panoramic and remarkably frank treatment of the German attack, ordered by Hitler as a last-ditch attempt to reverse the momentum of battle in Western Europe. The Allied armies had made significant progress since the D-Day invasion in June, pushing the German armies out of France and most of the Netherlands and Belgium. Pulling tanks and troops off the eastern front, where the Red Army was pushing hard, the Germans put everything into an attempt to split the Allies and force the British out of the war. The attack, launched in December, caught the Allies off guard—caused partly by squabbles that distracted the Allied generals. British commanding general Sir Bernard Montgomery was clearly jealous of the American commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and kept pushing to be given more independence. American generals George Patton and Omar Bradley, among others, detested Montgomery and blamed him for not securing the port of Antwerp. Meanwhile, one of the worst winters on record made for nearly impossible fighting conditions, punishing soldiers and ruining their equipment until the Allies finally prevailed. Beevor skewers the pretensions and weaknesses of generals and details atrocities and mistreatment of both civilians and surrendering enemies by both sides. The author takes for granted more knowledge of the battle, the terrain, and the German language than general readers may possess, and he occasionally repeats information attentive readers will recall from previous mentions. But these are small quibbles. On the whole, this is a treasure of memorable portraits, striking details, fascinating revelations, and broad insights—likely to be the definitive account of the battle for years to come.

Essential reading for anyone interested in World War II.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-02531-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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