An illuminating, almost minute-by-minute reconstruction of the events that took place in the Tonkin Gulf in August 1964, and an analysis of decisions in Washington that led to the massive American escalation of the Vietnam War in 1965. Moise (History/Clemson Univ.) offers a massively detailed study of the Aug. 2 and Aug. 4, 1964, incidents in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam, after which Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution giving the Johnson administration authority to wage war against Communism in North and South Vietnam. Moise is careful to point out that the incidents ``did not really `cause' the outbreak of large-scale war in Vietnam.'' As he shows, in August 1964 the war in South Vietnam was heating up rapidly, and the White House and Pentagon were already making plans for large- scale intervention. Still, the events surrounding the Tonkin Gulf incident—including covert American-supported actions against North Vietnam that had begun in February 1964—as well as the actual incidents themselves deserve close study. That is exactly what Moise provides in his book, in which he augments a thorough examination of primary sources with interviews with many key players, including former North Vietnamese naval officers. Moise's readable, if sometimes overly detailed, reconstruction of the events in the water leaves little doubt that the small battle on Aug. 2 was not an unprovoked North Vietnamese attack on ``an innocent [American] reconnaissance vessel,'' as the Johnson administration contended. Rather, North Vietnam attacked the destroyer Maddox, which was loaded with electronic eavesdropping equipment, in retaliation for months of American-supported attacks along the coast. Moise also convincingly shows that no North Vietnamese attacks on American ships took place on Aug. 4, although he concludes that American action was based on a misunderstanding, not on a provocation ``knowingly faked'' by the American government. The most inclusive look by far at the portentous Tonkin Gulf incident.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 1996

ISBN: 0-8078-2300-7

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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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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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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