A worthy read for aviation and military-history buffs.

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A QUESTION OF LOYALTY

GEN. BILLY MITCHELL AND THE COURT-MARTIAL THAT GRIPPED THE NATION

Pilot, patriot, and popinjay: a thoroughgoing account of Billy Mitchell’s now-forgotten fall from grace.

WWI aviator and hero Billy Mitchell smarted when, instead of being given command of the Army’s air branch, he was reduced in rank and shipped off to a post in Texas. “In Washington, he had a platoon of air officers as loyal to him as disciples to a prophet,” writes Time correspondent Waller (Big Red, 2001, etc.). “His staff now consisted of two clerks and a stenographer.” Insisting, as he would for the rest of his life, that he be called General Mitchell, he went on the offensive soon after the Navy dirigible Shenandoah crashed in a storm over Ohio, releasing a scathing report to the press that criticized the military leadership’s aviation policy, “dictated by non-flying officers of the army and navy who know practically nothing about it.” For his pains, Mitchell was hauled up before the brass for insubordination, and his trial commanded headlines for weeks in 1925. Waller points to the justice of some of Mitchell’s complaints and to the correctness of many of his military theories—some developed on an eight-month tour of Asia in 1923, after which he wrote a report predicting that Kapan would one day attack the US at Pearl Harbor, and, moreover, that the attack would begin at 7:30 a.m. with a swarm of fighter planes, a “scenario . . . eerily similar to what actually happened eighteen years later.” But, working with long-buried transcripts, Waller also puts some black marks next to Mitchell’s name: he was a martinet; he stole some of his bestselling book, Winged Defense, from an army report that, to make matters worse, was still classified. In the end, convicted, Mitchell resigned his commission, though he remained a public hero, especially when WWII began and his complaints about the lack of preparation of the US armed forces were proven true.

A worthy read for aviation and military-history buffs.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-050547-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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