THE HUNTERS, 1939-1942

The first of two volumes recounting in sweeping (almost too sweeping) detail the true impact of Nazi Germany's storied U-boats on the course of WW II. On the basis of his painstaking research, Blair (Ridgway's Paratroopers, 1985, etc.) concludes that this impact has been greatly exaggerated. Noting that 99 percent of the Allied merchant ships in transatlantic convoys reached their destination, he suggests that the principal achievement of the U-boats may have been obliging Anglo-American forces to commit substantive resources to anti-submarine warfare. Without ever suggesting that the Battle of the Atlantic was other than a bitter, to-the-death struggle on both sides, the author (who saw action aboard a US sub in the Pacific theater) makes a persuasive case for his revisionist thesis. In doing so, moreover, he offers gripping, hell-and-high- water accounts of submarine warfare. Blair provides background on the postWW I revival of the German Kriegsmarine, and on the command structure and aspirations of the Third Reich's silent service. The author then reckons the havoc wreaked by their skippers before and after the US was drawn into the global conflict. Covered as well are the exploits of legendary aces, the logistical problems attendant to deploying a flotilla of U-boats, rules of engagement, the invariably inflated tonnage claims, and code-breaking programs. For all the terror U-boats inspired among mariners and upper-echelon commanders, Blair argues that they never proved a decisive strategic weapon; in fact, these craft were doomed early on by a ruinously unfavorable exchange rate (the number of ships sunk per subs lost) without ever posing a serious threat to Allied supply lines. Military history of a surpassingly high order, which (assuming no letdown in the concluding volume) could become the standard reference on U-boats. (maps and photos, not seen) (History Book Club selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-394-58839-8

Page Count: 864

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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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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