A nonrevisionist, reflective, opinionated, intensely researched WWII history.

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140 DAYS TO HIROSHIMA

THE STORY OF JAPAN'S LAST CHANCE TO AVERT ARMAGEDDON

A detailed, almost day-by-day account of political debates that preceded Japan’s surrender in World War II.

In his first book, Colorado-based military historian Barrett emphasizes that by 1943, once it became clear that matters were going badly, Japanese leaders never doubted that they could salvage matters by convincing the United States that every Japanese would fight to the death. They believed the U.S. lacked the fortitude for this crushing task and would seek a compromise peace. As the war journal of Imperial Headquarters wrote in July 1944, “the only course left is for Japan’s…people to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose their will to fight.” By that time, American military leaders also suspected that to win, American forces would be forced to kill every single enemy. The result was massive firebombing of cities and use of the atomic bomb. Barrett reminds readers that at first, the atomic bomb played no part in America’s strategy because no one knew if it would work. Planners envisioned a massive invasion of the home islands for November 1945. Everything changed after the bomb’s successful test on July 16. Several important American figures objected to such a terrible weapon, but they did not make a big fuss, and Barrett expresses little sympathy. According to the author, there was never doubt that we would use it. The Aug. 6 bombing of Hiroshima shocked Japan’s leaders, strengthened “peace” advocates, and persuaded the emperor that the war might be lost, but military chiefs exercised their veto, convinced that America would invade and suffer a crushing defeat. The Soviet Union’s declaration of war on Aug. 8 did not tip the balance, but the Nagasaki bomb on Aug. 9 was another matter. Military leaders realized that the invasion they yearned for might not happen and that the U.S. might simply continue to drop atom bombs. As a result, when the emperor announced that he favored surrender, they went along.

A nonrevisionist, reflective, opinionated, intensely researched WWII history.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63576-581-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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