Readers will agree with the author that the Coast Guard is the only American military service that needs more money and...




The history of an admirable, undeservedly neglected service agency.

Every day, the Coast Guard’s men, ships and aircraft respond to 123 distress calls and rescue an average of 14 people; this translates into more than 1.1 million lives saved during its 200-year history. Sadly, notes environmental journalist Helvarg (50 Ways to Save the Ocean, 2006, etc.), far more attention is paid to seagoing organizations that kill people—Navy, Marines, etc. The Guard has suffered thousands of deaths in the line of duty while killing almost no one, except during wartime when it comes under Navy command. The author makes a convincing case that this is not for lack of drama and heroism. Fittingly, the book begins in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While the Bush administration was caught napping, Coast Guard leaders had no doubt that a disaster was in the works. Assembling men and equipment, they waited for the storm to pass and then sprang into action, rescuing thousands. Helvarg follows the Guard’s history from a few lighthouse keepers in the 1790s to today’s high-tech service, whose ships and aircraft routinely pluck men from raging seas and sinking vessels and intercept drug and illegal-immigrant smugglers. Lacking the enthusiastic private-industry lobbyists who promote massive appropriations for the other services, the Guard makes do with ships far older than the Navy’s and never-quite-cutting-edge equipment. Antiterrorism duties added since 2001 have forced diversion of units from rescue, safety, antipollution and anticrime patrols, while world shipping and its inevitable problems continue to increase.

Readers will agree with the author that the Coast Guard is the only American military service that needs more money and publicity.

Pub Date: May 12, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36372-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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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