Perceptive perspectives on the Korean War from James (Military History/Virginia Military Institute), author of the three-volume The Years of MacArthur (1970-85). Eschewing a conventional format, James focuses on America's senior commanders and their most consequential decisions during the three-year conflict that, despite being confined to a remote Asian venue, bore the imprint of its global predecessor. He includes separate chapters on Truman, MacArthur, MacArthur's two successors (Matthew Ridgway and Mark Clark), and the often-overlooked Admiral C. Turner Joy (the top US naval officer in the Far East). James then assesses a half dozen critical events and their implications, covering, among other matters, the initial determination to send US troops to fight; the risky Inchon landing; MacArthur's dismissal; and the resolve to limit the scope of the stalemated battle. While James's essaylike approach makes for a somewhat kaleidoscopic and modestly redundant narrative, it allows the author to examine key individuals and developments from diverse viewpoints. He shows, for example, how MacArthur's experiences in WW II's Pacific theater influenced US/UN strategy during the war's first year of combat. At the same time, he is able to convey the concurrent (and unwarranted) euphoria of civilian Washington, which briefly believed that decisive victory was at hand for coalition forces. As James makes clear, however, the entry of Chinese ``volunteers'' changed the rules of engagement—an outcome accepted with varying degrees of grace up and down the chain of command. A fine addition to the literature of what can no longer be deemed a forgotten war.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-916001-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1992

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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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