Hard-drinking, hard-fighting, beloved by his troops: Allen has a fine chronicler here—fans of Band of Brothers ought to snap...



A ripsnortin’ life of an unorthodox—and barely tolerated—American general.

Nearly 400 Americans held the rank of brigadier general and above in WWII, but only a few are widely remembered today: Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley, Smith. All figure in the pages of this narrative by popular military historian Astor (The Greatest War, 1999, etc.), which commemorates the life and achievements of one Terry de la Mesa Allen (1888–1969). Though an army brat familiar with the sometimes-impenetrable ways of military culture, Allen was an unlikely success as an officer. He flunked out of West Point twice, yet distinguished himself as a combat commander during WWI, bringing idiosyncratic ways of leadership to bear on the job; when, for instance, a junior officer complained that a planned attack amounted to suicide, Allen shot him in the behind, saying, “There. You’re out. You’re wounded.” (The attack was a success, costing only 20 casualties.) Allen rose to command of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One,” but was removed from his post during the Sicilian campaign owing to the riotous habits of his soldiers, which the brass believed Allen encouraged. (“Once we’ve licked the Boche,” Allen was alleged to have said to his men in North Africa, “we’ll go back to Oran and beat up every MP in town.”) But Allen, admittedly no by-the-book officer, had to sit out only a small portion of the war before returning, this time in command of the tough-as-nails 104th Infantry Division, which distinguished itself in battle after battle across France and into the German homeland, where it eventually linked up with Russian forces on the Elbe River and crushed the final remnants of Nazi resistance.

Hard-drinking, hard-fighting, beloved by his troops: Allen has a fine chronicler here—fans of Band of Brothers ought to snap this up.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-89141-760-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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