A sweeping and heartbreaking story of modern war and its personal costs.

YANKEE GONE HOME

A TRUE STORY ABOUT OPERATION JUST CAUSE

A book examines a 20th-century American military campaign and one man who endured it.

In this volume, Hook (Never Subdued II, 2015, etc.) unfolds dual narratives operating on very different scales. The larger, broader one explores modern military history: specifically the course of Operation Just Cause, President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama to depose Gen. Manuel Noriega. The author grounds this expansive tale in a vast amount of painstaking research into primary documents and contemporaneous reporting, all of it shaped and marshaled with a great deal of dramatic efficiency and storytelling brio. Although the book’s primary focus is clearly on the personal level, its look at Operation Just Cause is absolutely first-rate military history, filled with memorable portraits like that of commanding Gen. Maxwell Thurman, “a bachelor who was said to be married to his profession.” His “reputation often preceded him to new duty stations, similarly to what happened to Gen. George Patton during World War II,” Hook writes in a typical passage. “Much like Patton’s reputation, Thurman’s similar reputation undoubtedly helped him to produce results.” Alongside this vast tapestry is the work’s heart, the story of one soldier: Spc. E-4 Bruce Beard, who received his marine certificate as an engineman on Sept. 23, 1987, and enlisted in the Army just five weeks before the U.S. Senate passed its resolution calling on Noriega to step down. Beard arrived in Panama on Sept. 11, 1989, in what Hook diplomatically describes as “a chaotic situation.” In that widespread disorder, Beard fell into drug use, drew a bad conduct discharge, and found himself cast adrift in civilian life with PTSD and no governmental services to help him. In this entirely gripping account, Hook goes into Beard’s case in great detail, tracing the bureaucratic ignorance among Operation Just Cause officers as to how serious drug use could be (Hook points out that only Vietnam veterans knew the problem firsthand). The blending of the two threads produces an arresting picture of a military episode most Americans have forgotten.

A sweeping and heartbreaking story of modern war and its personal costs.

Pub Date: March 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5427-2621-4

Page Count: 164

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

1776

A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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