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



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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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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