Berhman’s sure grasp of the geo-politics, his firm understanding of the Plan’s details and his deft portrayal of the men who...




A splendid narrative history of the Marshall Plan, perhaps the best foreign-policy idea America ever had.

Feeling entitled because of its battlefield sacrifices and driven by a seemingly ascendant Marxist ideology, Stalin’s expansionist Soviet Union saw prostrate Europe as especially vulnerable in the wake of World War II. To counter this threat, the United States conceived a comprehensive recovery program designed to revive the continent’s working economies. Wisely, the plan required European initiative and cooperation to make the aid self-sustaining, with the U.S. acting only as a constructive partner to help restore social conditions where free institutions could flourish. Fatefully, Stalin refused to allow Russia or its Eastern European satellites to participate. Berhman (The Invisible People: How the US Has Slept Through the Global AIDS Pandemic, the Greatest Humanitarian Catastrophe of Our Time, 2004) follows the plan from its infancy in the U.S. State Department, where glittering figures such as the indispensable George Marshall, George Kennan, Robert Lovett and Dean Acheson presided, through its adolescence, where Michigan’s Senator Vandenberg shepherded the European Recovery Program through Congress, to its full maturity in Europe, where W. Averell Harriman, as well as three men insufficiently remembered by history—Will Clayton, Richard Bissell and Paul Hoffman—insured its success. The Plan would have foundered had it not been for European statesmen—England’s Ernest Bevin, France’s Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman and Germany’s Conrad Adenauer—whose leadership and vision not only saved their countries, but also planted the seeds for European integration leading to NATO, the European Common Market and today’s EU. Astonishingly, billions of dollars and four years later, amidst Cold War episodes as unsettling as the Berlin airlift and the outbreak of the Korean War, the Plan had restored Western European confidence, political stability and economic health, and it secured the region as a U.S. partner for the next half century.

Berhman’s sure grasp of the geo-politics, his firm understanding of the Plan’s details and his deft portrayal of the men who made it work combine to forge a remarkable story.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-8263-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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