There have been plenty of books—perhaps too many—about Churchill, but very few that mention his work as a writer in more...

IN COMMAND OF HISTORY

CHURCHILL FIGHTING AND WRITING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

History, the adage has it, is written by the victors. That’s nowhere more true than in the matter of Winston Churchill, the self-aware subject of this engaging study.

Churchill, notes Reynolds (History/Cambridge Univ.), was foremost a writer and journalist, long accustomed to making his living by his pen and wits; even while in office, though mostly in peacetime, he added to his reputation and purse by writing biographies and histories. He was also accustomed to living well: “My tastes are simple,” he once said. “I like only the best,” and he spent fortunes on cigars and drink, on an elegant country house and a London apartment. Voted out of office at the close of WWII, Churchill took the occasion to write his magisterial, two-million-word history of the conflict, which took eight years and involved a small army of assistants. Moreover, he did so without paying the ruinous 97.5 percent income tax that someone of his level should have paid, thanks to the wiles of lawyers and agents; altogether, his earnings may have equaled 50 million in today’s dollars. Lightly taxed money was one thing: As Reynolds carefully demonstrates, Churchill had other motivations in taking on the massive project, including rehabilitating his reputation in the wake of electoral defeat and casting the war in terms that would serve the Anglo-American alliance in the quickening Cold War. Thus, Reynolds shows, examining various drafts of the history, Churchill revised the record to eliminate his account of how American diplomats “very nearly danced for joy” on hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor and to improve his performance at places such as Yalta and Potsdam—sometimes, as Reynolds writes, being “economical with the truth” in the process.

There have been plenty of books—perhaps too many—about Churchill, but very few that mention his work as a writer in more than passing. Reynolds adds considerably to our understanding of the British leader.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2005

ISBN: 0-679-45743-7

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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