Fluid, sharp writing, deep research, and a spy network with unparalleled ingenuity provide a snappy read and lots of...

AGENTS OF INFLUENCE

A BRITISH CAMPAIGN, A CANADIAN SPY, AND THE SECRET PLOT TO BRING AMERICA INTO WORLD WAR II

Hemming (Agent M: The Lives and Spies of MI5’s Maxwell Knight, 2017, etc.) tells the story of MI6 operative Bill Stephenson (the model for 007) and how crucial he was to America’s entry into World War II.

Stephenson was sent to New York in June 1940, to convince U.S. officials to support England in her desperate fight against the Germans. Later that summer, President Franklin Roosevelt sent Bill Donovan on an unofficial visit to London to discern if England could survive. Stephenson knew of the visit and had MI6 take charge, wooing Donovan with royal visits and access to high-security operations. When Donovan returned to America, Stephenson convinced him the U.S. needed a stronger spy service. Donovan’s job was to get Roosevelt onboard. He was already leaning in that direction, ready to help in any way he could—everything that is, short of declaring war. Helping these interventionists was an East Coast group with strong influence called the Century Group. American isolationists, led by Charles Lindbergh, were their fiercest opponents. Lindbergh, who addressed huge crowds at anti-war rallies and justified Nazi aggression due to economic imbalance, received information from Hans Thomsen, the senior diplomat at the German Embassy in charge of keeping the U.S. out of the war. Thomsen developed the congressional “franking privilege” scheme whereby pro-German material could be mailed to sympathizers by sitting members of Congress for free. He also bribed newspapers to publish his false material. Stephenson and Donovan built the most diverse and extensive yet subtle propaganda drive ever directed by one sovereign state at another. In this page-turning spy thriller, Hemming shows how they mastered the art of starting rumors, infiltrating groups, and manipulating opinion polls. They also used forgeries, organized protests, and wiretaps and hacked into private communications. Their only rule: No rules.

Fluid, sharp writing, deep research, and a spy network with unparalleled ingenuity provide a snappy read and lots of shockers.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5417-4214-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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