Another in the long line of books describing the exploits of modest, freedom-loving soldiers in purple prose that would...




Worshipful biography of a Georgia sharecropper’s son who won the Medal of Honor for a spectacular feat in May 1945.

Johnson (Hour of Redemption, 2002) decided to retell the story of John McKinney (1921–97) to remind readers that America “still produces brave, unselfish warriors who are willing to sacrifice for what our country believes.” Posthumous interviews with friends and fellow soldiers revealed only that McKinney was a quiet, pleasant fellow, so Johnson fills most of the book with a fictionalized account of his youth, his unit’s exploits and a description of the war in the Pacific. Four months after American forces invaded the main Philippine island, McKinney’s unit was guarding an isolated outpost when the Japanese attacked, quickly capturing the single machine gun that commanded the area and could determine the battle’s outcome. A crack shot, McKinney killed the two Japanese soldiers at the machine gun and took his position there. When it jammed, he used his rifle and several others, often fighting hand-to-hand against overwhelming odds. When fighting stopped after 40 minutes, observers counted more than 100 Japanese dead, most killed by McKinney. Three wounded men witnessed his heroics, so plenty of documentation exists, though the uneducated Georgia farm boy left no personal papers. Sadly, the author converts what may be the greatest individual American feat of any war into a lurid, comic-book adventure replete with invented, highly macho dialogue: “ ‘You boys are running into a Georgia cyclone!’ he muttered. Then his finger reached for the machine gun trigger…”

Another in the long line of books describing the exploits of modest, freedom-loving soldiers in purple prose that would surely embarrass their subjects. Strictly for fans of the genre.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-425-21566-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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