No revisionist but a solid storyteller and naval scholar, Symonds mixes politics, strategy, sea battle fireworks, technical...

WORLD WAR II AT SEA

A GLOBAL HISTORY

A veteran maritime historian delivers a satisfying one-volume history of “the impact of sea services from all nations on the overall trajectory and even the outcome” of World War II.

The massive naval campaigns of 1939 to 1945 remain the largest in history and will probably never happen again. Though there have been hundreds of books about this subject, readers will welcome this fine account from a highly qualified guide. Symonds (Maritime History/U.S. Naval War Coll.; Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings, 2014, etc.) emphasizes that because no navy was fully prepared for war in 1939, everyone got it wrong. Neither Hitler nor his naval chief gave priority to submarines, so Germany began the war with too few and never caught up. Despite many horrendous sinkings, ably described by the author, 99 percent of Allied ships reached their destinations. Many historians now agree that U-boats never came close to cutting off supplies to Britain. The far more successful American submarine campaign wreaked havoc on Japan’s merchant fleet, bringing the country close to starvation in 1945. It’s a cliché but also true that most pre–WWII naval planners failed to realize that air power made their first love, battleships, obsolete. A minority of Japanese admirals understood, and the two-year delay before America’s entry into the war allowed American officials to realize what they needed. Rocking no boats, Symonds agrees that the Allied victory resulted from British stubbornness at the beginning, followed by Russian blood and American industrial production. He adds that brains, luck, and enemy stupidity remained essential, enabling America to turn the tide against Japan in 1942 at Midway and Guadalcanal with inferior forces.

No revisionist but a solid storyteller and naval scholar, Symonds mixes politics, strategy, sea battle fireworks, technical details, and personal anecdotes to deliver one of the better single-volume histories of the naval portion of WWII.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-19-024367-8

Page Count: 792

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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