Will appeal to military buffs, conservative readers and, of course, firearms enthusiasts.

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AMERICAN GUN

A HISTORY OF THE U.S. IN TEN FIREARMS

A raucous and duly violent tour of American history through the sights of 10 famous weapons, from the Kentucky long rifle to the M-16.

There’s a touch of sadness to the second book by Kyle (American Sniper, 2012), given that Kyle—who co-authored this work with William Doyle—both became famous for his wartime sniper service and was himself gunned down by a PTSD-afflicted veteran he was trying to aid. The tragedy is compounded by the sheer likability of Kyle’s ebullient, if hyperconservative, persona on the page. From his rural Texas upbringing and his experiences in war, Kyle came to believe that “[m]ore than any other nation in history, the United States has been shaped by the gun.” He persuasively suggests that dramatic changes in firearms technology can be viewed as inextricable from the American Revolution, the closing of the Western frontier and, later, to American dominance on the world stage. Thus, he begins each chapter with a representational combat anecdote from the industrial and military narratives leading to each firearm’s development, noting how often bureaucracy stood in the way of technologies that aided soldiers. Kyle is skilled at explaining complex combat scenarios, and he addresses the many strange ironies of American firearms’ history with dry humor—e.g., regarding the “Tommy gun,” which developed unsavory criminal connotations before its vital role in World War II: “[Inventor] Thompson personally didn’t like the association, but few gangsters took the time to ask his opinion.” Kyle’s wry, relaxed tone is complemented by a foreword and afterword by his widow, who recalls a man who “had personality and character to spare.”

Will appeal to military buffs, conservative readers and, of course, firearms enthusiasts.

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-224271-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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