For buffs of World War II–era aviation history and the Pacific campaigns.

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KANGAROO SQUADRON

AMERICAN COURAGE IN THE DARKEST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II

A history of some of the first American fliers to engage with the Japanese enemy following Pearl Harbor and Midway.

The Japanese attack on American bases in the Pacific was still fresh in memory, writes former naval aviator Gamble (Invasion Rabaul: The Epic Story of Lark Force, the Forgotten Garrison, January-July 1942, 2014, etc.), when a dozen B-17 bombers and their crews arrived in Australia. The small squadron was assigned to lay into distant Japanese targets, including a “1,600-mile raid on the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul.” Only some of the planes were able to fly, owing to accidents and mechanical problems; without adequate fighter support at first, they made easy targets for Japanese fighter planes, including newly outfitted float planes. The first bombers could carry only a few bombs each, given the weight of the fuel needed for such long hauls, but on occasion they made them count. The American air assault on New Guinea was only a minor part of the overall campaign, but it was enough to dissuade Japanese forces from attempting a threatened invasion of Australia. Gamble isn’t much of a stylist—“oblivious to the cigarettes constantly dangling from their lips, they orchestrated the myriad chores necessary to prepare a twenty-ton bomber for combat"—and the story is largely a footnote in the American air war in the Pacific, mainly carried out from aircraft carriers and island bases closer to the Philippines and then the Japanese homeland. Still, the author has a solid grasp of big-picture strategy and of the alternating tedium and terror of war, especially as bomber crews experienced it, never knowing when anti-aircraft fire would take them down or the fuel would run out before they could return to base. Gamble closes with the search for a downed bomber and its return, decades after crashing, to American soil.

For buffs of World War II–era aviation history and the Pacific campaigns.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-306-90312-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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