A precise military study, only marginally adapted for a general reader.




The man who formed the first US special-tactics unit makes a clear, detailed, clinical analysis of operations from the failed Iranian rescue mission to the recent successes in Afghanistan.

In 1977, Carney, an Air Force officer, was chosen to lead a six-man team nicknamed Brand X. Created to fight terrorism, the unit trained to combat hijackings, rescue hostages, and recover stolen nuclear weapons. Skilled in HALOs (high altitude, low opening parachute jumps), Brand X could secure, clear, and light landing fields for Navy SEALs and the Army Delta Force and Rangers. With journalist Schemmer (The Raid, not reviewed), Carney evaluates US special operations since 1980, most of which he took part in. The Iranian hostage rescue failed for multiple reasons, including no dress rehearsal, unfamiliarity with low-level desert flight, and branch service compartmentalization that lead to non-sharing of critical information. President Reagan called the 1983 invasion of Grenada a brilliant victory, but Carney shows it to have been a messy affair resulting in multiple deaths by friendly fire. Better success came with the 1989 invasion of Panama to depose Manuel Noriega, when Brand X safely coordinated multiple air strikes and drops in a confined area. In the Gulf War, General Schwarzkopf led with a huge tank assault; special forces played only a limited role, its purpose to soothe the Israelis by clearing Scud missiles from western Iraq. Retired by the time of Afghanistan, Carney appreciates the way special units organized the anti-Taliban forces there, making unnecessary large numbers of US ground troops. Carney trained as a chef after leaving the service and later joined the private sector as a military consultant. He ends with an affecting appeal for donations to a scholarship fund for children whose fathers died in special-forces operations.

A precise military study, only marginally adapted for a general reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45333-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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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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