Much of the authors’ evidence is circumstantial, but there’s an awful lot of it. A convincing, urgent argument.

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AN ENORMOUS CRIME

THE DEFINITIVE ACCOUNT OF AMERICAN POWS ABANDONED IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

A sprawling indictment of eight U.S. administrations. The charge: sacrificing American war prisoners in the interest of focusing, as Bush aides have said, “not on Vietnam’s past but on its future.”

Beginning in 1966, write former Rep. Hendon (R-NC) and attorney Stewart, GIs captured in South Vietnam were moved north along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and other routes. Cataloguing sightings with the diligence of Vincent Bugliosi—whose Reclaiming History (2007), on the JFK assassination, is something of a companion piece—Hendon and Stewart reckon that hundreds of POWs had crossed the Demilitarized Zone by the time of the Tet Offensive, their numbers swelled by pilots downed over North Vietnam. Many of these soldiers, Hendon and Stewart charge, were used as human shields against American bombing attacks on power plants, military headquarters and other strategically important venues. North Vietnam and its allies in Laos and Cambodia weren’t particularly forthcoming on all these things, but the U.S. played a dirty hand, too; by the authors’ account, the prisoners’ ultimate release was bound up in negotiations conducted by Henry Kissinger, “the surrogate president,” who reneged on promises of U.S. aid owing to supposed violations of previous accords, thus closing off a diplomatic channel for repatriation. Fast forward to 1987, when Ross Perot traveled to Vietnam and told the foreign minister, who insisted that there were no POWs there, “Don’t embarrass yourselves, I know too much.” Fruitful negotiations ensued, the authors report, only to be brushed aside by the Reagan administration—even though, they claim, at least 100 U.S. prisoners were still alive in Vietnam. Hendon and Stewart, who appear nonpartisan in their disdain for governmental inaction and double-dealing, close by offering advice to President Bush to send an army of former presidents and their staffs to negotiate the release of the remaining captives.

Much of the authors’ evidence is circumstantial, but there’s an awful lot of it. A convincing, urgent argument.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-37126-5

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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