Readers looking for a clear picture of “modern history’s best-known evil ruler and murderer” or the course of World War II...

HITLER'S LAST DAYS

THE DEATH OF THE NAZI REGIME AND THE WORLD'S MOST NOTORIOUS DICTATOR

O'Reilly reconstitutes his Killing Patton (2014) for younger audiences with a grabbier title, lightly massaged extracts from the original, and additional period photographs.

It’s a patch job from start to finish. The book opens with a Patton-centric account of the Battle of the Bulge that takes up nearly a third of the volume and closes with 13 arbitrarily ordered minidisquisitions on topics ranging from Hitler’s mustache and his diet to Nazi art looting and the Nuremburg trials; in between, spare glimpses of life in Hitler’s Berlin bunker alternate with accounts of the Allied drive into Germany in 1945. The narrative is composed of rearranged excerpts, subjected to editing that in some cases makes the writing even more overwrought than the original: “The woods are dark and gloomy. A dense fog makes the Germans even less visible,” becomes “The woods are dark and gloomy inside, as if covered in a shroud of pines. A dense fog makes the Germans even more invisible.” Illustrating the text are black-and-white war photos, many generic, some badly placed or bearing uninformative captions (“German tanks”), all too many blurred and murky.

Readers looking for a clear picture of “modern history’s best-known evil ruler and murderer” or the course of World War II in general would be far better off skipping this knockoff for some of the well-chosen titles recommended at the end.   (maps, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-396-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2015

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories.

BOY FROM BUCHENWALD

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Following his liberation from the Buchenwald death camp, Romek didn’t know how to reclaim his humanity.

Romek’s childhood in his Polish shtetl of Skarżysko-Kamienna, where he was the youngest of six loving siblings, wasn’t wealthy, but it was idyllic. Skarżysko-Kamienna was “forests and birdsong,” with “the night sky stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.” His family was destroyed and their way of life obliterated with the Nazi invasion of Poland, and Romek lost not just memories, but the accompanying love. Unlike many Holocaust memoirs, this painfully lovely story begins in earnest after the liberation, when Romek was among 1,000 Jewish orphans, the Buchenwald Boys, in need of rehabilitation. Having suffered years of starvation, disease, and being treated as animals, the boys were nearly feral: They fought constantly, had forgotten how to use forks, and set fire to their French relief camp dormitory. Some adults thought they were irredeemable. With endless patience, care, and love, the mentors and social workers around them—themselves traumatized Holocaust survivors—brought Romek back from the brink. Even in a loving and protective environment, in a France where the boys were treated overwhelmingly kindly by the populace, it took time to remember goodness. Parallels between anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. and Canada are gentle but explicit.

Lyrical writing focuses on the aftermath of the Holocaust, a vital, underaddressed aspect of survivor stories. (historical note, timeline) (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0600-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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