A WING AND A PRAYER

THE 'BLOODY 100TH' BOMB GROUP OF THE U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE IN ACTION OVER EUROPE IN WORLD WAR II

An affecting, ambivalent memoir from an Army Air Force veteran who survived the savage aerial engagements of WW II's ETO. Lead navigator in the 100th Bomb Group, which sustained staggering casualties at the Luftwaffe's hands, Crosby was responsible for guiding flotillas of UK-based B-17s to targets throughout occupied Europe. An archetypal straight arrow from mid- America, the well-educated and happily married author had little use for daredevils, drunks, goldbricks, lady-killers, or anyone else who treated combat as a less-than-serious business. Nor did he much appreciate the USAAF's bent for giving pilots preference (over bombardiers or pathfinders) on promotions, decorations, and command billets. Crosby provides a vivid account of what life was like on and off the flight line in East Anglia, as well as in the unfriendly skies above the Continent, where his notable accomplishments were matched by his hairbreadth escapes. During his extended tour, for example, he directed missions against objectives so remote that the raiders had to land in Africa or Russia rather than return to their home fields. On another occasion, his plane, badly damaged by flak, was obliged to shoot down ten German fighters to make it back for a crash landing on British soil. As his squadron lost men and machines, the high cost of conflict became an increasingly grave concern for Crosby. The author soldiered on, however, and he recalls now the relief he felt when Flying Fortresses began delivering food supplies (not ordnance) to the long-suffering people of liberated countries. In a low-key epilogue, he discloses that, though a regular attendee at his outfit's reunions, he turned actively anti-war during the 1960's. Uncommonly thoughtful recollections that address the moral ambiguities of a great cause without in any way denigrating the selfless valor or camaraderie that helped ennoble it. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 17, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-016941-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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...

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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