Astor (Operation Iceberg, 1995, etc.) has garnered extensive testimony from veterans of the bloody struggles for the Philippines, a strategic prize in WW II. Drawing on these powerful first-person accounts, Astor argues that the US suffered a ``second Pearl Harbor'' in the Philippine Islands during December 1941. The Filipino- American defenses were shockingly unprepared, despite General Douglas MacArthur's warnings of imminent attack. American forces had obsolete tanks, guns, and planes, and no reserves of ammunition. Despite these handicaps, many US units and the gallant and highly professional Filipino scouts fought bravely against veteran Japanese troops. Hungry, racked by disease, despairing, they fought on. Astor vividly depicts the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, the infamous Death March (during which many American POWS were murdered), and the atrocities carried out by the Japanese against Filipino civilians. (At the postwar trials of Japanese officers it was asserted that 131,028 Filipions and Americans were murdered during the Japanese occupation.) Astor is critical of MacArthur's misleading and self-serving reports about the Japanese invasion and of his false promises of reinforcements to his troops and their allies. The American return to the islands in 1944 was a different story: The avenging Allies came with overwhelming land, sea, and air power. Despite that, it was a long, brutal campaign. Judging from these stirring accounts by the men in combat, the Allied infantrymen and airmen and the Scouts (Filipino-American guerrillas) were truly heroes. MacArthur ultimately redeemed himself, returning to the Philippines, ousting an entrenched enemy, and earning a great victory under trying circumstances. Astor's latest contribution to the literature of WW II pays tribute to the little-known exploits, the sacrifices, and the valor of fighting men and reminds us that those who defend freedom may incur a terrible cost.

Pub Date: May 20, 1996

ISBN: 1-55611-484-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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