An unsparing critique of the US military as well as its industrial and political allies, from a been-there/done-that warrior who sounds off with all the subtlety of an artillery barrage. A highly decorated veteran of the US Army, Hackworth wrote the 1989 bestseller About Face, detailing his experiences in the military and his outrage at America's blunders in Vietnam. The book launched the author on a new career as a military-affairs correspondent for Newsweek, a post that has enabled him to keep a close watch on the armed forces. Hackworth has been in the thick of the action in the Balkans, Haiti, the Persian Gulf, and Somalia. He has also taken unsentimental journeys to Korea and Vietnam, venues in which he earned eight Purple Hearts. The retired colonel's first-person accounts of these battleground sojourns feature hard- hitting observations on the capacities of the US military, plus recollections of his own time as a front-line commander. Proceeding from the premise that the primary responsibility of the armed services is to protect the nation against its enemies, Hackworth lights into political leaders who use the military for diplomatic rather than military purposes. The author also pounds away at the top brass who endorse such errors. Other targets include Pentagon contractors who produce immensely expensive weapons systems of little use in low-tech conflicts, lawmakers who support megabuck procurement programs that promise to create jobs in their electoral districts, and senior officers with a sharper eye for budgetary advantage than for eliminating wasteful duplication. By no coincidence, Hackworth has a thoroughgoing reform agenda, including amalgamating the National Guard with the Reserves, letting NATO die a natural death, gearing up for brushfire belligerencies, merging the USMC into the Army, and encouraging professionalism rather than careerism in the officer corps. Marching orders from an old soldier who's not about to fade away or close ranks. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-14718-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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