A rollicking tale of “unparalleled bravery and ingenuity, interspersed with moments of rank incompetence, raw brutality and...




An “authorized” but not “official” or “comprehensive” history of Britain’s swashbuckling Special Air Service.

Times (London) writer at large Macintyre (A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, 2014, etc.) was given full access to SAS archives and particularly the “War Diary,” an invaluable compilation of original documents gathered in 1946. The author makes engaging use of those archives. In 1941, the war was not going well, especially in North Africa. As Macintyre clearly shows, the SAS fighters were rowdy, undisciplined, inspiring men who were more harnessed than controlled, and they were to function as a small, independent army inflicting damage out of all proportion to their size. They fought a new sort of war, one without rules, based on a concept of stealth and economy. Their founder, David Stirling, built a group of guerrillas who planned to get behind enemy lines for quick, effective attacks. Their initial setup included very little, so they just stole what they needed from a nearby New Zealand regiment away on maneuvers. During their first operation, they parachuted in, but after a disastrous failure, they looked for a better entry. Connecting with the Long Range Desert Group gave them their own “Libyan Taxi Service” run by men who knew the desert as well as any Bedouin. American Jeeps were the next piece, refitted to become all-terrain combat vehicles. The SAS stole into German airfields, attached their specially adapted bombs to planes, and were well away before the fireworks. After Winston Churchill’s son reported on his time in the SAS, the prime minister summoned Stirling to dinner in Cairo, where he made a bold play to take full control of all of the special forces. These were incredibly courageous men who often seemed allergic to discipline but who fought hard and died throughout Africa and Europe.

A rollicking tale of “unparalleled bravery and ingenuity, interspersed with moments of rank incompetence, raw brutality and touching human frailty.”

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90416-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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