Political history is often a tough slog, but Steil writes a vivid, opinionated narrative full of colorful characters,...

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THE MARSHALL PLAN

DAWN OF THE COLD WAR

A fresh perspective on the Marshall Plan, bringing “new material from American, Russian, German, and Czech sources.”

From 1948 to 1952, the United States gave Western European nations more than $13 billion to rebuild after World War II. Though scholars have covered the subject many times before, general readers will do well to choose this lively, astute account from Steil (The Battle of Bretton Woods, John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, 2014), the director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. Everyone understood the physical destruction, but many failed to realize how, in the words of the State Department’s Will Clayton, “economic dislocation, nationalization of industries, drastic land reform, severance of long-standing commercial ties, and disappearance of private commercial firms were paralyzing recovery two years after Germany’s surrender. President Harry Truman and his advisers knew that they needed help. Secretary of State George Marshall tested the waters in his iconic June 1947 Harvard speech; though the American media barely noticed, it thrilled Europe. To everyone’s relief, the Soviet Union refused to participate and forced its eager satellites to withdraw. To persuade a war-weary electorate and Republican-controlled Congress to support massive foreign aid required political skills which—at least in that far-off era—our leaders possessed. A national PR campaign portrayed it as an emergency measure to fight communism, and several influential Republican congressmen fought for passage. Steil casts an expert eye on the results and concludes that it succeeded, if not as dramatically as popular writers often claim. On the downside, including Germany infuriated the Soviets but did not, despite revisionist claims, start the Cold War. The author also includes a 25-page cast of characters and four appendices.

Political history is often a tough slog, but Steil writes a vivid, opinionated narrative full of colorful characters, dramatic scenarios, villains, and genuine heroes, and the good guys won. It will be the definitive account for years to come.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0237-0

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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 sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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