A remarkable story that would have made a remarkable book—if it had been written by Jon Krakauer.



Courage and survival in the Antarctic.

In 1946, a crew of Navy men on a reconnaissance mission crashed a plane called the George 1 in Antarctica. Kearns, whose father Bill was one of the plane’s copilots, describes the aftermath of the crash. Three men died. The others suffered hunger, exhaustion and fear, but remained determined to stay alive. Only one of the crew had “survival training”—provided not by the Navy, but by the Eagle Scouts—and Bill Kearns knew a little something about frostbite. The men dined on apricot halves and dreamed of “scotch to go with all [the] ice” that surrounded them. By the tenth day, their spirits were, understandably, declining. But eventually the crew of the George 2 found their mates, and the first-time author concludes with a discussion of current-day attempts to recover the three corpses left in the ice. Character development here is patchy at best. The men of George 1 blend in with one another, and their fates eventually become uninteresting. The author only mentions that the mother of Maxwell Lopez, one of the men who died, wrote Bill Kearns angry letters blaming him for the death of her son, a powerful, emotionally engaging detail that’s merely glossed over. Nor, despite his gestures toward a “race” for “Earth’s last continental frontier,” does Kearns adequately explain the global politics of the Antarctic expedition. Just one or two more chapters about the mission’s broader context could have transformed this starry-eyed narrative into an exciting chapter of global history.

A remarkable story that would have made a remarkable book—if it had been written by Jon Krakauer.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34205-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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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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