Essentially a history of the Pacific war from January to June 1942 (Midway does not enter the picture until 100 pages in),...

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THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY

A wholly satisfying history of America’s most satisfying naval victory, won in June 1942 with vastly inferior forces.

Symonds (History Emeritus/U.S. Naval Academy; The Civil War at Sea, 2009, etc.) writes that America’s overwhelming industrial superiority doomed Japan, but adds that this was nowhere in evidence following Pearl Harbor, when its immense fleet with 10 aircraft carriers dwarfed the United States’ four. By April, Japan had performed so well that leaders debated what to do next. The winner was charismatic Admiral Yamamoto, whose victory at Pearl Harbor gave him unprecedented authority. He proposed attacking tiny Midway Island, 1,200 miles west of Hawaii, claiming that this would draw American carriers to its defense, and their destruction would force a negotiated peace. Yamamoto’s superiors opposed the plan but caved in. Thanks to American code breakers, U.S. forces knew Japanese intentions—useful information although not as vital as some historians claim. Approaching Midway, each fleet searched for and located the other almost simultaneously. In the subsequent action, both sides experienced the confusion, blunders and blind chance that invariably accompanies battles. Better luck and fewer blunders favored the U.S., which sank four Japanese carriers.

Essentially a history of the Pacific war from January to June 1942 (Midway does not enter the picture until 100 pages in), this is a lucid, intensely researched, mildly revisionist account of a significant moment in American military history.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-19-539793-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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