Just as well-researched and -written as the first volume, this story of how air and submarine power replaced the Navy’s...




The second volume of naval historian Toll’s Pacific War trilogy (Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific: 1941-1942, 2011, etc.).

The author’s interspersing of personal tales of World War II with the official histories not only brings the action to life, but also clarifies certain facts advanced in personal memoirs. Focusing on the theater led by Chester Nimitz, Toll conscientiously presents characterizations of the Navy, Air Force, and Marine leaders. The divisions of the Pacific theater between the Army and Navy resulted from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s demands for sole leadership, and the bitter rivalries between the services plagued leaders throughout the war, greatly affecting communications and targets. The author devotes a considerable portion of the book to the battle for Guadalcanal, as the fighter and bomber squadrons and naval bombardments paved the way for amphibious landings. With almost as much information about the Japanese leaders as the Americans, Toll’s wide view of the Pacific war is enlightening. He lauds the submariners whose primary job was to eliminate Japanese provisioning by sinking merchant shipping and tankers. The policy of hopscotching islands sped up Allied victories, and they avoided invading chosen islands, using bombardment and aerial bombing to neutralize them. The decisive capture of the Marianas in July 1944 signaled the end of Japan’s war, but it would take another year to convince them. Toll provides a solid picture of the mindset of the Japanese: their horror of surrender, their rigidity in operational procedures, which made them easy to predict, the rivalries that far surpassed those of the Allies, and the obdurate demands of Emperor Hirohito to fight to the death.

Just as well-researched and -written as the first volume, this story of how air and submarine power replaced the Navy’s reliance on battleships is an education for all and an enjoyable read in the bargain.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-08064-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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