This highly detailed look at India’s global effort in their (mostly) patriotic devotion to the empire occasionally gets...



Morton-Jack (The Indian Army on the Western Front: India's Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium in the First World War, 2014) reveals the extent to which the army of British India affected the outcome of World War I.

Historians have often declared that Indian soldiers suffered terribly in Europe’s bitter 1914 winter even though many came from mountain regions where cold, snow, and ice were the norm. They were also viewed as a weak colonial force only useful for easy border scrapes. On the contrary, writes Morton-Jack in this deep, dense history, the soldiers were seasoned professionals: well-traveled, politically aware, militarily skilled, and fully capable of employing their own tactics and enterprise. During WWI, the Indian Army was in a state of perpetual evolution. By 1916, the Indian cavalry in France was the British Expeditionary Force’s best trained and most experienced. The British knew the Indian Army needed to be well treated to hold them; in the first year in France, there were a record number of desertions and self-inflicted wounds. The British did all they could to provide the comforts of home, with special food, equipment, and arms—at least in France—but discipline was strict for deserters. The stories of the different forces and their successes and failures show the diversity of the war and the strong need for central leadership. Until the beginning of 1916, Britain’s military forces had divided controls between two separate departments and headquarters in London and India. Under Field Marshal William Robertson and Commander in Chief Charles Monro, the size of the Indian force was increased via improved pay, pensions, and promotions. With sufficient men and money, earlier losses were reversed. The author includes a helpful cast of characters and a glossary to define “durbar,” “kafir,” “sahib,” and many other terms that may be unfamiliar to general readers.

This highly detailed look at India’s global effort in their (mostly) patriotic devotion to the empire occasionally gets bogged down but usually picks back up quickly. World War I fans will appreciate the broad look.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-465-09404-2

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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