A succinct account of America's wide-ranging involvement in WW II from a distinguished duo. Eschewing a chronological format, James (Military History/Virginia Military Institute) and his longtime collaborator Wells (Refighting the Last War, 1992, etc.) provide discrete perspectives on how and where the US was engaged. To begin with, they assess the prePearl Harbor preparedness of America's armed forces and the industrial complex that soon became (in FDR's felicitous phrase) ``the arsenal of democracy.'' Covered as well are such other aspects of home-front activities as the effective conscription of scientists who worked on weapons-related projects, domestic race relations, the remote camps established for Axis POWs, rationing, and the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (a.k.a. the GI Bill of Rights). The authors go on to deliver concise briefings on the major campaigns in which US airmen, marines, sailors, and soldiers participated. Starting with the Battle of the Atlantic, they review all of the important Allied offensives in the European and Mediterranean theaters, which by the spring of 1945 resulted in Nazi Germany's capitulation. James and Wells then examine how American naval and ground forces turned a series of initial defeats into a decisive triumph over the Japanese across the vast reaches of the Pacific. At the close, they offer a moving tribute to the enlisted men who did most of the fighting and dying on foreign fields. In a final reckoning of costs and casualties, moreover, the authors insist that WW II was not, as popularly supposed, a good or glorious war but the most brutal and murderous conflict in the blood-soaked annals of a weary world. As inclusive and compact a rundown as general readers are likely to get any time soon. The consistently absorbing text has 11 useful maps, an index, and a savvy discussion of sources.

Pub Date: March 3, 1995

ISBN: 1-56663-072-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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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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