Axe’s ground-level perspective, as a free agent who is there by choice, makes much war journalism look like an aerial view...

This war correspondent’s graphic memoir packs a smart-bomb blast, as powerful as the volume is slim and elliptical.

A follow-up of sorts to Axe’s War Fix (2006, with illustrator Steve Olexa), the book doesn’t waste a word, an emotion or an image. The illustrations by editorial cartoonist Bors capture both the terror and the tedium of life in the hot spots of international terrorism. Why does Axe feel compelled to go to war? It isn’t for the money, as he scrounges together a living as a freelancer for C-SPAN, BBC Radio and the Washington Times—an assignment that opens doors more readily when confused with the Washington Post, as Axe happily discovers—while a military trade magazine subsidizes his expenses. It isn’t even for the adrenaline rush, for the author repeatedly relates that the romance of being a war correspondent (which he “hates being called”) is more of a fiction than a reality. The problem is that, having experienced the heightened reality of surprise attacks and corpses in the streets, he finds himself unfit for domesticity in America. “As boring as war can be,” he writes, “peace is much worse.” Through his narrative and Bors’s illustrations, Axe doesn’t cut a very glamorous figure, as he drifts among ever more dangerous war zones, even having his credit cards cancelled in Somalia after resisting an order from his publisher to return home from what had been classified a “level-five security risk.” Ultimately, the author wonders if “war [is] an aberration or the most basic human function, the thing we resort to when all our comforts crumble?...Had war chosen me or had I chosen it? And what did that say about me?”

Axe’s ground-level perspective, as a free agent who is there by choice, makes much war journalism look like an aerial view in comparison.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-451-23011-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010


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


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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