A lively depiction of America's development of superior air power.



As a former naval officer who served during Vietnam, Sears (Such Men As These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies Over Korea, 2010, etc.) brings an insider's knowledge of combat to this comprehensive history of the air war in the Pacific during World War II.

The author begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, so unexpected that tragically the only group of American fighters to take to the air was shot down by friendly fire. Sears juxtaposes that chaotic scene with festivities at a new Grumman Aircraft Engineering facility scheduled to open the next day. America had begun to prepare for war with an impressive buildup during the previous year. By the end of the war, Grumman had put about 30,000 planes in the air, including 12,000 advanced F6F Hellcats, which gave U.S. forces a significant advantage in the Pacific—even though at the start of the war, the Japanese Zero was a faster fighter plane with a better climb rate and turning radius. Sears also tells the less well-known, fascinating story of the fearless test pilots who risked their lives. They were employed by Grumman beginning in the 1930s—before the 1941 boom—in the aircraft industry, and many were killed testing the capabilities of dive bombers as well as the new generation of fighter planes. The author shows how American fighter pilots compensated for the early superiority of the Zero by developing new tactical formations that allowed them to outfly the enemy, and he goes behind the scenes to describe the high morale of American airmen.

A lively depiction of America's development of superior air power.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-81948-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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