A brisk work of history that weaves together the various factions responsible for the deployment of the first nuclear bombs.

COUNTDOWN 1945

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE 116 DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

What it took for Harry Truman, after fewer than three months in the White House, to decide to drop the atomic bomb—and how the plan was executed.

The end of World War II in the Pacific was as definitive as the mushroom cloud and firestorm produced by the weapon that brought it about. Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace describes a moment in history when both intense deliberation and decisive leadership were essential. On April 12, 1945, Truman, then the vice president, was summoned to the White House, where he expected to meet President Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, he was received by the president’s wife, Eleanor, who told Truman that Roosevelt had died, only a few months into his fourth term. Truman was shaken by the news, but it was a cryptic message from Secretary of War Henry Stimson that would define the rest of that year—and the war. Stimson informed the new president about Roosevelt’s top-secret project to build a nuclear weapon, and he did not prevaricate in describing the weapon’s potential to the new president: “Modern civilization might be completely destroyed.” Wallace describes how Truman thought that there was every reason to believe that the alternative to using the new weapon—a ground invasion—would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, on both the American/Allied and the Japanese side. The author peppers in the story of Hideko Tamura, a young Japanese girl who was sent away from her home in Hiroshima only to beg her mother to return—just in time to survive the detonation of the first atomic bomb. Wallace presents a mostly entertaining, if familiar, history of the three months between Truman’s taking office and the dropping of the bombs, but he only briefly engages with issues like the suffering of innocent Japanese and the intense misgivings of scientists like Albert Einstein.

A brisk work of history that weaves together the various factions responsible for the deployment of the first nuclear bombs.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982143-34-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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