IRON BRAVO

HEARTS, MINDS, AND SERGEANTS IN THE U.S. ARMY

The author of a gritty portrait of an NYPD homicide detective (Close Pursuit, 1986) offers an equally vivid close-up of a US Army noncom before, during, and after the Gulf War. While Stroud focuses on Master Sergeant Dee Crane, a lifer whose MOS (military occupational specialty) is 11B (combat infantryman), he leaves himself plenty of room for maneuver. In recounting how his unmarried protagonist (blooded in Vietnam during the mid-1960s) preps young all-volunteer troops for deployment to Saudi Arabia, for example, Stroud moves backward and forward in time to provide historical perspectives on Crane's outfit, the 1st Division (a.k.a. The Big Red One), which has distinguished itself on battlefields from the Argonne Forest to the Kasserina Pass. He also touches on the horrific allure of combat, careerism in the Army's upper echelons, and the factors that prevent a long-serving professional like Crane from accepting, let alone pursuing, a commission. For the most part, however, Stroud's engrossing narrative is designed to illustrate how the brotherhood of sergeants—hard but not altogether hardened men plying a violent, demanding trade—constitutes the heart and soul of an armed force. Dragooned by his captain into a press conference on the eve of battle, Crane sets the record straight in grimly hilarious fashion on subjects as varied as casualties, the evolving role of women at or near the front, and the job of a soldier (``...to close with [the enemy] and kill him''). Though in the thick of the fighting, Crane and his inexperienced but well-trained men all make it home. At the close, nearing 50 and facing enforced retirement, the universal noncom takes cold comfort from the knowledge he has been ``a part of some great thing.'' A profane, like-it-is, and oddly elegiac take on close encounters of the enlisted man's kind that rings true throughout.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1995

ISBN: 0-553-09552-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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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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