An occasionally winning look at one of the most famous Marine fighter squadrons of WWII and the subject of the classic TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep. Covering Marine Fighting Squadron 214’s actions and movements throughout the Pacific theater in WWII, Gamble, a retired naval officer, jumps chaotically between mind-numbing minutiae and hilarious anecdotes. He covers such important topics as the quest for reliable aircraft and parts, the search for and downing of Admiral Yamamoto’s aircraft (he was the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor), and, less crucially, methods for keeping a beer chilled in WWII-era aircraft. Beginning with the formation of the squadron in the early days of the war, the author covers the training and recruitment of the force and continues even after the group is dispersed and various members captured or killed. The key members of the squadron, including the now-famous “Pappy— Boyington, are well enough described but don’t come across as multifaceted characters. Gamble has a good ability for describing the aerial actions of the squadron, so it’s unfortunate that his writing has a tendency toward the melodramatic; and with chapter titles such as “First Blood” and “The Bullets Fly” and “Black Sheep Scattered,” it will be no surprise that the prose is rather clichÇ-ridden and predictable. However, there can be no faulting his use of sources, and the book includes appendixes reprinting all manner of documents and materials. Gamble has written a good, well-researched history of an important group in American military history, but one that is too drably written to appeal to any but the specialist. (43 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-89141-644-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Presidio/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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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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