A sad, chilling work that displays a vigorous buildup and suspense.

THE LOST ELEVEN

THE FORGOTTEN STORY OF BLACK AMERICAN SOLDIERS BRUTALLY MASSACRED IN WORLD WAR II

The underreported story of 11 young African-American GIs captured and massacred in the winter of 1944 by the Germans in Wereth, Belgium.

In this fast-paced, anecdotal account, George (A Woman's Right to Rest: Fourteen Types of Biblical Rest that Can Transform Your Life, 2012, etc.) and Child (Ghost Carrier, 2016, etc.) narrate a little-known but “graphic and deeply moving” World War II tale. Since the dialogue is “creatively retold,” the book reads more like fiction and thus aims at a wider audience than just historians. The authors provide an admirable follow-up on their protagonists and offer the right amount of detail for general readers. In addition to their main characters, they explore the role of African-Americans in World War II in general. Though they were drafted along with whites, the Jim Crow discrimination they faced will surprise many readers; most of the million who served were relegated to menial, subservient jobs like kitchen work and driving, and they lived in segregated housing. Moreover, they saw that the German POWs were often treated better than they were. The Wereth 11 trained under Capt. William G. McLeod at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, from late 1942 onward and joined the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion. They operated the 155mm Howitzer, a complicated new weapon that required considerable skill to master. The mostly farm-born men were eventually sent to the U.K. for further training and then stationed in France after D-Day. Entrenched just outside the Siegfried Line (the “West Wall”), the unit was overrun during the surprise attack of the Battle of the Bulge and captured. The authors also tell the story of the kind treatment of the black men by one Catholic German family (in Wereth) before they were found by the Germans.

A sad, chilling work that displays a vigorous buildup and suspense.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98739-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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