An intensive compendium of America’s interactions, both good and bad, with other countries that rightly leaves out the...

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AMERICA INVADES

HOW WE'VE INVADED OR BEEN MILITARILY INVOLVED WITH ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY ON EARTH

In this extensive, whimsical volume, the authors posit what many have long suspected: the United States has invaded or been militarily involved with almost every country on the globe.

Kelly, a longtime military-history buff, readily admits in his introduction that he drew inspiration for his first book from Laycock’s previous work (All the Countries We Invaded: And a Few We Never Got Round To, 2012), which covers Great Britain’s overseas excursions. The two got to talking and discovered that the U.S. offered even greater fodder for such a compilation. It has invaded 84 out of the 194 countries recognized by the United Nations and has been militarily involved with 191 of those. (The holdouts, the authors note, are Andorra, Bhutan, and Liechtenstein.) Military action is never too far away for America, as Kelly notes: “Americans are always hoping for peace but usually preparing for war. The American Eagle is an ambivalent bird holding arrows in the talons of one foot and an olive branch in the other.” A work such as this has the potential for being academically stodgy, but Kelly and Laycock deftly avoid that trap. Instead, they find colorful, obscure episodes from each country’s past. Take, for example, Panama’s Watermelon War of 1856: “It was really more of a Watermelon Riot, which was triggered by an intoxicated American railroad traveler who took a slice of watermelon from a Panamanian fruit merchant and refused payment. Fifteen Americans were killed in Panama City, and we sent our troops in to restore order.” One drawback is that readers can get cast adrift on the sea of military and political acronyms in the book, but the authors do provide supporting materials, such as a glossary, maps, and a comprehensive index, at the back of the volume to provide perspective for those seeking clarification. Still, for a dedicated history fan, this is an invigorating travelogue, taking readers around the world and backward and forward through time.

An intensive compendium of America’s interactions, both good and bad, with other countries that rightly leaves out the philosophizing.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1940598420

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Book Publishers Network

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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