THE SECOND WORLD WAR

A MILITARY HISTORY

An opinionated survey by a British military historian takes in all theaters of World War II, especially the war in Asia.

“New histories” of World War II continue to proliferate, as world records are thrown open and theories revised, and concise, one-volume surveys are always welcome—e.g., see Andrew Roberts’ excellent The Storm of War (2011). Similarly, Corrigan (Blood, Sweat, and Arrogance, 2006, etc.) offers a superlative big picture, setting up the far-reaching economic ramifications of the crash of the American stock market in 1929, the Russian Revolution and the rush to modernize after World War I. In particular, the author masterfully presents the military buildup in Japan, the rise of extreme nationalism, emperor worship and Japanese sense of racial superiority as factors feeding the smoldering resentment against the Western powers that unleashed itself in horrific treatment of prisoners and civilians during the war. Corrigan comes down hard on the British Army (as opposed to the Air Force and Navy), which was no match for the tenacious, wily Germans. He tidily organizes his work chronologically by alternating spheres of action. Corrigan compares the unraveling struggle to previous wars, and he is succinct and unafraid to voice strong opinions, such as that the policy of saturation bombing undertaken by the British and Americans was necessary to bring the war to an end, despite the enormous civilian casualties. He posits the Russian recovery of the Madjanek camp in Poland in July 1944 as the moment “the full beastliness of the German racial policies was exposed.” Engaging reading down to the footnotes.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-57709-4

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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