Students of WWII, especially of its diplomatic and geopolitical aspects, will want to have a look.



Fighting fascism is hard. Fighting it while arguing who’s in charge of the struggle only makes things harder.

Multinational military coalitions have been around since the time of the Peloponnesian War, Canadian military historians Bercuson and Herwig write. But WWII imposed requirements of a novel sort on the coalition that formed between Britain and the U.S.; both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt knew that “Allied victory would demand that their two nations fight virtually as one,” and that forging this unity both on the battlefield and in the production of war materiel was essential. Over a ten-day period around Christmas 1941, the two met in Washington to lay the foundations for what Churchill would dub “the grand alliance.” Although the two liked each other and shared a highly developed understanding of world politics, their work was complicated by their accompanying retinues, among whose ranks were an American admiral who despised the British and a British air marshal who insisted that American air forces be put under British command. Hammering out logistical details was one problem; Bercuson and Herwig slyly note that supplying Churchill with his vast daily alcohol requirements exhausted the White House booze allowance and required dipping into State Department funds. Determining a workable chain of military command was another; interestingly, we learn, Roosevelt initially recommended that a British general be put in charge of the combined American, British and Dutch forces who made up the first iteration of the Allies. He did so knowing that friction among Commonwealth leaders made an American commander the better choice, information he likely acquired “through American interception and decrypting of British diplomatic radio traffic.” Espionage aside, among the highlights of this account is its look at the Allied leaders’ timetable for the war, which matched historical events closely in many respects—but also departed from them significantly.

Students of WWII, especially of its diplomatic and geopolitical aspects, will want to have a look.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58567-403-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?