An engaging potpourri of oral reminiscences of the Kennedy Administration, many of them from insiders. Gossip about Camelot will always have a market, and this collection has plenty to hold the Kennedy-buff's attention. Lengthy special-pleading from Adlai Stevenson III, Norman Podhoretz, and a Batista supporter sits cheek-by-jowl with succinct observations by J.K. Galbraith and Walter Rostow. The Strobers (he: American Jews, etc.—not reviewed; she: a Newsweek editor) organize their material into 22 topics ranging from the 1960 campaign, Kennedy's political philosophy, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the problem of J. Edgar Hoover and the subtle ambiguities of the Kennedy-Johnson relationship. The 120 interviews include talks with Khrushchev's son; Willy Brandt; Bui Diem (former South Vietnamese ambassador to the US; and other international figures—but the more interesting discourse comes from those inside the Kennedy Administration and those who worked with it (Dean Rusk, George McGovern, William Colby, et al.) The infighting about—and post-mortems of—the Bay of Pigs are especially interesting as the participants highlight the problems Kennedy faced as he took office: vulnerability to accusations from expert Red-baiter Nixon (who knew about the Bay of Pigs plan) if he failed to act; bad advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff; CIA incompetence and deception; and a scenario by which JFK was led into the invasion by hawks, who assumed that he would commit air support (even though the President had said he would not). A year later, by contrast, the now-more experienced Kennedy used his advisors effectively and acted with dispatch in the Cuban Missile Crisis. A fertile historical document of wildly divergent views (especially on Kennedy's ``rating'' as a President)—and long- lasting personal enmities.

Pub Date: April 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-016720-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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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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