6/6/1944

THE VOICES OF D-DAY

June 6, 1994, marks the 50th anniversary of D-day. Astor's panoramic account of the amphibious assault should rank high in the scramble to commemorate the anniversary and, on its considerable merits, could supplant Cornelius J. Ryan's estimable The Longest Day as the standard popular reference. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving veterans as well as archival sources, Astor (Battling Buzzards, 1993, etc.) provides a selectively detailed, wide-angle overview of the greatest air/land/sea operation in military history. While he largely allows those who participated in the epic clash to speak for themselves, he adds background information that puts the experiences of his eyewitness combatants into context: After reviewing the massive preparations required to put over 120,000 troops aboard a 5,000-vessel armada in the English Channel, he focuses on the individual units assigned to seize specific objectives. Starting with the airborne outfits that dropped behind Wehrmacht lines shortly after midnight, the author offers a graphic, sector-by-sector briefing on how the Allies gained a foothold in occupied Europe. Owing to intelligence gaffes, human fallibility, adverse weather, planning errors, and the stubborn (if uncoordinated) resistance of German defenders, the invasion's outcome hung in the balance for much of the first day. Astor does a fine job of recounting how the valor, initiative, and resourcefulness of Allied soldiers helped them prevail. He tracks these comrades-in-arms from the deadly beaches won at no small cost in casualties through their inland link-ups with those who had arrived under cover of darkness, and he closes with after-action reports on how his narrators spent the rest of the war—and their lives. Astor all but ignores the Air Force's role in D-day. This cavil apart, he brings vividly to life the achievements of the soldiers and sailors whose invasion turned the tide of the war. The consistently absorbing text has 24 pages of contemporary photographs. (First printing of 65,000)

Pub Date: June 6, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-11014-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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