THE UNMAKING OF ADOLF HITLER

A valuable contribution to the ever-growing library on Hitler and National Socialism. Davidson, president emeritus of the Conference on European History and a former president of the Foundation for Foreign Affairs, picks up where his previous work, The Making of Adolf Hitler (1977), left off. From Hitler's first moves hours after being sworn in as chancellor on January 30, 1933, until the final GîtterdÑmmerung in the Berlin bunker, Davidson presents a clearly written and cohesive narrative. The focus here is mostly on political and diplomatic history, and some may lament the absence of information on economic and social conditions under the Third Reich. The title is somewhat misleading, since almost 400 pages are devoted to Hitler's unbroken string of successes, from the moment when he gained power until the tide of war finally began to turn against the Germans. In fact, the reader might be astounded by the combination of skill and luck that accompanied Hitler both before and during the war. It was only after the failure to subdue England, when Hitler turned his armies toward the Soviet Union, that his fortunes began to decline. Davidson's study of diplomacy in the 1930s persuasively demonstrates that French and British politicians and diplomats were totally at a loss when dealing with Hitler. Curiously, there is little discussion concerning anti- Semitism, racism, or the Holocaust; since it has been argued that these ideas and events represent the very heart of the Nazi ideology, this is a serious shortcoming, even if the work is concerned primarily with diplomatic and political history, for what is more ``political'' than genocide? A student unfamiliar with the past might conclude that euthanasia, political terror, the glorification of war, and the Holocaust were merely sidelines to the story. Most of what is here is not new, yet it is presented in a manner that will benefit specialists; for students and others, the book offers only one facet of the larger picture. (50 illustrations, not seen.)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8262-1045-7

Page Count: 536

Publisher: Univ. of Missouri

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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