BACK TO CORREGIDOR

AMERICA RETAKES THE ROCK

Sharply told account of how US paratroopers took back ``The Rock'' from Japan in a pivotal WW II battle; by Devlin (Paratrooper!, 1979). Where Pearl Harbor was a sudden devastation from the air, the battle for the Philippines was messy from the start, beginning with MacArthur's decision (despite radar warning) to leave his aircraft on the ground to be destroyed. In due course, the Japanese forced American troops to retreat to Corregidor, where they were to be rescued but were not. Devlin weaves the details of the US attack to retake the island into a tale that conveys the realities of airborne warfare, right down to those whose chutes failed and the startling death by suicide of the airborne commander shortly before the battle. He also makes a convincing case that the use of paratroops was extremely wise, the Japanese having prepared thoroughly for a conventional attack. But while this is an excellent account of a very interesting military engagement, Devlin's uncritical and enthusiastic assessment of MacArthur reflects a weakness in his approach. Unlike George Feifer (Tennozan, p. 368) or Thurston Clarke (Pearl Harbor Ghosts, 1991), Devlin fails to create a sophisticated historical/cultural context for his tales of battle, nor does he go deeply into the lives of participants. His is patriotic writing in which individuals and concepts are not much explored. The crushed ribs, concussions, and splintered bones of difficult landings are there, along with ugly details of the hand-to-hand fighting common in the Pacific Theater, but while names are given, there is little sense of who is receiving that pain, or why. Conventional military history of a high order, but without the leavening of thoughtfulness that could raise it to a still higher level. (Photos—32 pages—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-07648-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

1776

A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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