Military buffs and would-be submariners will thrill with patriotic pride; others may wonder—as do some of the crew—is this...

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BIG RED

THREE MONTHS ONBOARD A TRIDENT NUCLEAR SUBMARINE

A correspondent for Time magazine depicts a US nuclear sub and the demands made on its crew in such detail that the enemy (whoever that might be) could use it for a blueprint.

Waller (Air Warriors, 1998, etc.) patrolled the Atlantic for three months aboard the Trident submarine Nebraska (hence the nickname Big Red) with a crew ready on command to launch nuclear missiles against an unknown enemy. (China? North Korea? Iran?) Although critical details have presumably been omitted, Waller pinpoints even such strategic particulars as the location of the hot keys for a missile launch. Along with specifics of command and control centers are vignettes of the crew, from the captain to the lowliest maintenance man. (There are no women on submarines.) Crew members are locked in this mammoth tube underwater for as long as three months at a time, but life aboard is anything but a waiting game. Constant drills keep the crew on alert; they range from locating a leaking pipe or subduing a (pretend) psychopath to revving up for an actual missile launch, and some require that personnel go for days with little or no sleep. Tensions are relieved with movies, games, practical jokes, food, and a halfway party on the 39th day that features videos from wives and children. Waller also examines the motives and the morale of the men aboard, some driven by patriotism, others by the opportunity to have the Navy pay for a college education or to extend their experience with state-of-the-art technology. Some scenes are delicately moving, as when sonar operators capture the sounds of dolphins playing nearby; others, like the launch drill, capture the pressure and anxiety as the crew prepares—on orders from the commander-in-chief—to push the button.

Military buffs and would-be submariners will thrill with patriotic pride; others may wonder—as do some of the crew—is this trip necessary?

Pub Date: March 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-019484-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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 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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