An interesting look at America’s claims about World War I, the truth and folly therein, and the unfinished work they left...




Wawro (History/Univ. of North Texas; A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire, 2014, etc.) takes a deeper look at the American soldiers who rescued Europe in 1918.

Many historians believe that World War I wasn’t really won; it was just interrupted until 1936, when it roared back to life. As forewarned in 1919, without an American presence in Europe, Germany would take over Europe’s coastline and prevent another rescue. In 1918, the French, Italians, and English were running out of manpower. The French army was down to old men and teenagers, and their credit was exhausted. They were desperate for soldiers as a strategical reserve against Germany—and America could provide soldiers. When Gen. John Pershing finally brought the Doughboys to Europe, they were untrained and ignorant of modern trench warfare, and they lacked the necessary equipment. They arrived without engineers, signalers, tanks, artillery, machine guns, or planes—all to be shipped later. Pershing swore that America would not serve except under his leadership, but his army was ineffective. He did release a dozen battalions of “colored” soldiers to the French; they were fully incorporated as combat troops and highly praised. Eventually, he agreed to help the Allies, but not too much. The first American battle took place at Cantigny in May 1918, a full year after the U.S. declared war. German Gen. Erich Ludendorff knew the American army could tip the scales, and he did all in his power to finish off the Allies before their arrival. Unfortunately for the Americans, the artillery was late, and the tanks, even with George Patton in charge, were still too new and unreliable. Still, as Wawro ably demonstrates, the American reserves were crucial to the war’s outcome: “The Doughboys won the war by surrounding the German army in France and Belgium and compelling its surrender.”

An interesting look at America’s claims about World War I, the truth and folly therein, and the unfinished work they left behind after the armistice was (eventually) signed.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-465-09391-5

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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