Lucid and well-written; a worthy companion to Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead (Mar. 2003).



A memorable study of a transformative battle, now largely “condemned to the dustbin of history.”

Former Marine officer and debut author Morris, who entered the service shortly after Gulf War I ended, offers a vivid account of the Battle of Khafji, when, in a scarcely imaginable act of hubris, Saddam Hussein sent three armored and mechanized army divisions into Saudi Arabia. The battle, which began nearly a month before Operation Desert Storm sent Americans into Iraq, lasted only three days. Yet it afforded plenty of opportunities for the fog of war to enshroud American forces; no contingency plan having been made for such an invasion, for instance, air traffic controllers did not immediately dispatch planes to relieve the coastal sector’s American and Arab Coalition defenders, so that “the greatest air force in the history of warfare was sitting idle while Marines battled Iraqi main battle tanks with rifles.” Once the communications snafus were cleared up, American planes did take to the skies—and quickly inflicted heavy losses on their own men. At the same time, American units that had been caught unaware had to avoid being cut to pieces in the crossfire between their comrades and allies and the oncoming Iraqi forces. All in a day’s work, Morris remarks: “The gods of war roll the dice, and the dumb grunts in the middle of it get to sort it out.” The battle soon turned, and, writes Morris, “American forces and their allies saw up close and for the first time the staggering psychological impact of modern precision-guided munitions upon an outmoded Third World army.” Yet the American command failed to learn the obvious lessons from Khafji—namely, that the Iraqis were less tough and less motivated than had been assumed. Had the generals done so, Morris suggests, they might have been emboldened to crush the vaunted Republican Guards the first time around “and thus taken away Saddam’s main instrument for survival,” which presumably would have made Gulf War II unnecessary.

Lucid and well-written; a worthy companion to Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead (Mar. 2003).

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-3557-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2003

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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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