A rambling, jingoistic account of the various adventures of America’s ground infantry, by a US army colonel and infantry brigade commander with a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago (Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990s, 1995). Bolger uses the various military operations of the recent past (Panama, Somalia, the Gulf War) to look at the forms of infantry and the ways in which they have served in combat. With chapters such as “Death from Above” (on paratroopers) and “Hell on Wheels” (motorized infantry), each looking at a different form of combat, Bolger fires military jargon so rapidly that few who have not graduated West Point will understand. Worse than the jargon is the fact that not until the very end of the book does the author do much to analyze how each form of combat is relevant to the broader mission of the military. Instead, he glories in the details of various military exploits and cheerleads the American forces (“Colonel John Sylvester’s Tigers demonstrated armored warfare at the doctoral level, administering a series of hard lessons to Iraqis on the receiving end”). Bolger does little to look at the less glorious challenges facing today’s infantry: challenges like limited pay, health risks (such as Gulf War Syndrome), and cutbacks in the military. Instead, the author offers detailed descriptions of the wide array of weapons available to his “grunts.” And he occasionally, but all too rarely, offers an exciting look at battle conditions, as he does for the Gulf War. Too much jargon for the layperson, too trivial for the amateur battlefield historian. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-89141-671-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Presidio/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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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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