Washington Post correspondent Wilson (Mud Soldiers, 1989) offers a vivid, wide-ranging account of how and why America's Navy trains its test pilots. To gain firsthand knowledge of his subject, the aging author (a Navy veteran of WW II and Korea) stayed an 11-month course with the hundredth class to pass through the Navy's Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Having flown with the base's demanding instructors and spent upwards of 20 hours per week in lecture halls, Wilson has substantive points to make on the rigorous TPS curriculum and the 34 superbly qualified trainees he observed taking it in. While his interim shipmates included civilian engineers, a couple of women, and officers from three foreign countries as well as other branches of the military, Wilson resists the temptation to engage in slice-of-life journalism. Opting instead for a wide-angle agenda, he provides background on the development of naval aviation, Pax River, and programs designed to determine whether state-of-the-art aircraft and weapons live up to their contract specifications. Covered as well are the carrier trials of a new plane, plus the griefs of mishaps (the USN euphemism for fatal accidents) and the resultant boards of inquiry. Wilson's most valuable contribution, though, is his understated briefing on weak links in the procurement chain that allow senior officials and manufacturers to override or ignore the objections of TPS grads to the performance of systems to which the Navy has committed. In an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets, he argues, neither the US nor its naval forces can afford such deficiencies. An engrossing, close-up fix on the US Navy's TPS and its place in our national defense.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55750-925-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Naval Institute Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1992

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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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