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...


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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