A vivid account that has something to please most WWII buffs.



World War II as told through the annals of the Associated Press.

Not much in this compendium will come as a surprise to readers familiar with the history of the last great global war, but there are plenty of illuminating behind-the-scenes moments: the fact, for instance, that upon the entry of the U.S. into the war, an AP executive editor went to work as the Roosevelt administration’s director of censorship, hanging a sign the day after Japan’s surrender that read “out of business.” The book demonstrates the openness of the American press, despite that official censorship, in publishing forthright descriptions of battles and their aftermaths: “American combat casualties increased 1,855 during the past week, raising the combined army-navy total to 1,060,727 since the start of the war.” Those numbers are even more meaningful in context. As the text notes, 16 million Americans served in the war and, with them, 1,600 war correspondents. The language of the AP reports is often clinical, sometimes repetitive—e.g., Gen. Henry Arnold’s admission that the air forces lost 60 Flying Fortress bombers and nearly 600 crew members in a single raid on a German industrial city, but that only served to indicate “the importance which the Nazis attached to his ball bearing industry at Schweinfurt.” Students of language will be interested to note that correspondents regularly attached racial epithets to the Japanese but not the German or Italian enemies and that they brought over the term doughboy, widely thought to have been used only in World War I: “There was singing and dancing and music on the banks of the Elbe today as doughboys of Gen. Hodges’ First Army and jubilant troops of Marshal Ivan Konev’s First Ukrainian Army celebrate the historic junction symbolizing the defeat of Nazi Germany.” Many of the photographs, such as Joe Rosenthal’s image of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, are iconic, but refreshingly, there are numerous lesser-known images as well.

A vivid account that has something to please most WWII buffs.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4116-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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