A superb portrait of some of the realities of World War II and the increasingly destructive technology created during that...


NOVEMBER 14, 1940

Taylor (Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany, 2011, etc.) exposes one of the 20th century’s most savage military innovations, aerial bombing, in a well-researched, engaging book about a vicious Luftwaffe bombing in England at the beginning of World War II.

On the clear, moonlit night of Nov. 14, 1940, Luftwaffe bombers, armed with a new location system, began to drop incendiaries on the city of Coventry. The bombing continued with impunity until dawn, long after anti-aircraft defense ran out of ammunition. With almost nonexistent fighter defense, the bombing ended only when the Luftwaffe decided it was over. Britain had radar technology at the time, but their onboard radar didn’t work. The Nazi goal was to break England’s backbone of resistance, believing that “terror-bombing” the middle classes in the center of the defense industry would lead to negotiations to end the war. The author refutes the long-held belief that the government’s knowledge of plans for Coventry was withheld for secrecy. A downed German pilot’s overheard conversation provided some of the details, and England’s attempt to locate the origins of the radio waves and to jam their signals became the so-called “battle of the beams.” Unfortunately, the forewarning could only be a few hours, time only to create a panic. With sufficient personal stories to drive the horror home, Taylor proves Hitler right in thinking Coventry was the stronghold of the English. “The bombing of Coventry reveals…not just another city exposed to and devastated by new and ever more deadly military technology….Tradition-rich historic city and rapidly growing armaments-industry boom town in one,” writes the author, “Coventry represented quite a particular, and rare, place.” What Hitler didn’t understand was how they’d react: sadness, fear, regret, defiance, and stoic determination to carry on.

A superb portrait of some of the realities of World War II and the increasingly destructive technology created during that time.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63286-197-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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