A sturdy exploration of lesser-known aspects of the Cold War, focusing on the rivalry between allies as much as enemies.

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GRAND IMPROVISATION

AMERICA CONFRONTS THE BRITISH SUPERPOWER, 1945-1957

World War II ended in 1945. However, as this historical account reveals, it took another dozen years before Americans came to accept their role in the world with a new term: superpower.

A much-repeated distillation of postwar world history goes something like this: Exhausted by six years of war and not wanting to fight further to retain an empire that was already an anachronism, Britain let the United States take over as the West’s leading power. As global management consultant Leebaert (Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy from Korea to Afghanistan, 2010, etc.) writes, chiding the likes of Henry Kissinger along the way, the truth is considerably more complicated. Britain fought hard to retain its empire and world influence, the U.S. was as much a rival as an ally at key points, and well into his administration, Dwight Eisenhower would acknowledge British hegemony in regions such as the Middle East. Things came to a head with the Anglo-French seizure of the Suez Canal in 1956, disrupting American efforts to outgame the Soviet Union in the region. But it was really the onset of the space race that put the U.S. in a different order from its erstwhile colonizer, revealing that “only the United States and the Soviet Union could compete at this level.” America’s rise as a superpower, Leebaert concludes after a long look at the years between World War II and Vietnam, came without a grand strategy or much interest in holding an empire of its own. The nation’s dominance was instead largely economic and cultural, the product of “the sheer power of production, a culture of discovery and technology breakthroughs, and Hollywood’s idealization of middle-class living, not from any expansionist yearnings in Washington." Of considerable interest is the author’s look inside policy differences between the U.S. and Britain (and other Western powers) on the conduct of the wars in Vietnam, Korea, and other theaters.

A sturdy exploration of lesser-known aspects of the Cold War, focusing on the rivalry between allies as much as enemies.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-25072-0

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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