Hard-hitting yet evenhanded, Taylor’s work holds tremendous relevance for our time.




A deeply compelling study of the peace enforced on Germany by the Allied victors at the close of World War II.

British historian Taylor (The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961–1989, 2007, etc.) builds on the important work of Perry Biddiscombe and others in fashioning a more complete story of the messy “enforced transformation” of Germany after the demise of the Third Reich. Gen. Eisenhower had declared in 1945 that Americans came “not as liberators but as conquerors,” emphasizing the shared German guilt, yet in a 1995 poll more than half the German population still held to the notion that VE-Day was “a day of liberation.” Taylor carefully weighs the evidence on both sides, Allied and German, for a portrait of a terrible time and utterly traumatized populations: the Russians making their way into the eastern provinces of Germany in early 1945, speeding toward Berlin, “living witnesses of the fact that at least 25 million of their compatriots…had died in battle, or by massacre, and often by deliberate starvation” at the instigation of the Nazis, and in no mood for the niceties of prisoner treatment; and the despairing German civilians deserted and duped by Hitler, left to endure the onslaught of Russian revenge in the form of pillaging, mass rape, torture and murder. The Nazi propaganda machine had preyed on German anger at the bombings of German cities and the fear of Allied retaliation. Still, many Germans fled westward to be able to seek refuge in American and British hands, as news of Russian brutality spread. Those who survived the ravages of Stunde Null, “zero hour,” feared that Germany would simply cease to exist. While the Allied occupation and restructuring weren’t perfect, Germany in short order became an economic powerhouse, putting off a moral examination of their wartime conduct for a 20-year “sleep cure.”

Hard-hitting yet evenhanded, Taylor’s work holds tremendous relevance for our time.

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59691-536-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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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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