Adds scope, analysis and emotional immediacy to a critical body of history.




An adventurous correspondent’s World War II dispatches reanimate the great cataclysm of the 20th century.

Journalist/novelist Anthony Weller discovered a cache of his father George’s dispatches, which had been presumed lost, following the latter’s death in 2002. First Into Nagasaki (2006) collected George’s revealing stories from defeated Japan, censored by order of General MacArthur. Here, Anthony has compiled and edited a much larger selection consisting primarily of pieces written for the Chicago Daily News, supplemented by a half-dozen longer magazine articles and abridged versions of his father’s three wartime books: Singapore Is Silent, “Luck to the Fighters” and Bases Overseas. The material details events beginning in 1940 and ranging from Greece and the Balkans to Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. In all those locales, the reporter often struggled to get his dispatches through not only enemy lines but also “friendly” censors. Readers will be immediately struck by the profound difference between Weller’s coverage of armed conflict and the sort typically seen on television today. The cultured, cosmopolitan, multilingual journalist strove to present not just the images and events of a world war but the political machinations behind its gruesome twists and turns. He reveled in the irony, for example, of entire Nazi battalions on their way to invade Greece strolling through Bulgaria, whose government was supposedly neutral, as “tourists” in civilian attire. In Africa, he sensed the heroic significance of Belgian officers marching their Congolese troops 2,500 miles across jungle and desert to participate in the eventual defeat of the Italians in Ethiopia, the first retaliatory blow of a victim nation against the Axis powers. Also included here is the famous story gleaned from a U.S. submarine crew of an emergency appendectomy performed by a pharmacists’ mate while submerged in enemy waters. It earned Weller a 1943 Pulitzer, and was cribbed twice without credit by Hollywood.

Adds scope, analysis and emotional immediacy to a critical body of history.

Pub Date: April 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-40655-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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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