Former diplomat Stafford compellingly tells the fateful story of Winston Churchill's lifelong obsession with intelligence and secret warfare, which had both trivial and large-scale consequences for the British from the Boer War through the 1950s. From the outset of his colorful multiple career as an imperial officer, journalist, man of letters, and statesman, Churchill evinced a romantic fascination with the arcana of secret intelligence work. Stafford, an intelligence historian (The Silent Game, not reviewed), traces this fixation to a brief 1895 stint in Cuba, where Churchill covered the rebellion against Spain for a British newspaper. At once idealizing and fearing the rebels, Churchill saw for the first time the effects of a popular insurrection fought by guerrillas: The rebels, who had perfect intelligence of Spanish locations and operations, often fought with an insurmountable advantage over the unwieldy government forces. Churchill had similar reactions to other guerrilla tactics he observed or experienced, whether in Ireland in the troubles of 191621 or by anticommunist forces against the Bolshevik regime in the early 1920s; guerrillas, cloaked in secrecy and backed by popular support, were able to win wars against numerically superior conventional opponents through superior intelligence and covert activities. During WW I he founded the first signals intelligence organization, and after the collapse of the tsarist regime he became deeply involved in the ultimately disastrous anticommunist activities of master spy Sidney Reilly. It was as a wartime prime minister, however, that Churchill's concern with spying had the most concrete effect: He forged an important intelligence alliance with the US, oversaw Britain's ``Ultra'' operation, which brilliantly intercepted the communications of the Nazi command, and founded the Special Operations Executive, which ran daring operations in Nazi-occupied Europe, gave aid to resistance movements across Europe, and ultimately engendered Britain's modern intelligence apparatus. A first-rate and, what is more remarkable, an original contribution to Churchilliana, of sure interest to students of Churchill, modern history, or military intelligence. (25 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 1998

ISBN: 0-87951-850-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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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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