A frank, significant look at how the proliferation of foreign military bases has “helped lock us inside a permanently...




America’s seldom thought of, and largely misunderstood, military outposts around the globe are brought into sharp relief.

The idea that it costs more than $100 billion each year to maintain the United States’ roughly 800 military installations spread throughout the world is easy enough to grasp, and there are many who will say that the hefty price tag is well worth the cost. However, Vine (Anthropology/American Univ.; Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, 2009) effectively argues that the true costs of all those bases—whether euphemistically called FOBs, lily pads, or a host of other monikers—encompass a lot more than what is in Uncle Sam’s wallet. Ostensibly meant to protect American security at the close of World War II, Vine demonstrates how both the rationale behind the rise of U.S. military bases abroad and their implementation run counter to many closely held American ideals. Readers on the left will be particularly chagrined to learn that liberal lion Franklin Roosevelt orchestrated a plan that regurgitated and repackaged old-time colonialism in the name of national security. The author also illuminates the series of forced evacuations, expulsions, and evictions that devastated whole societies all across the Pacific, Latin America, and beyond, and he shows how little the government had learned after the Trail of Tears 100 years prior. Citizens could still wave the flag and extoll democratic principals here at home, but Vine further demonstrates how they did so oblivious to the autocrats that continued to fill the upper tiers of the American military. The powers that be may have successfully swept many previous sins under the carpet in the wake of World War II, but according to Vine, continuing to maintain U.S. military bases around the world doesn't make any sense in a post–9/11 world.

A frank, significant look at how the proliferation of foreign military bases has “helped lock us inside a permanently militarized society that in many ways has made all of us less safe and less secure.”

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-169-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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