A straightforward, suitably plain-spoken account of the first dramatic months of a presidency that transformed America's world role. Moskin (The U.S. Marine Corps Story, not reviewed), a former foreign editor of Look magazine, focuses on the crisis with which Truman's presidency began—the sudden death of FDR and the accession of the inexperienced, poorly prepared vice president to the Oval Office just as WW II reached its denouement. Moskin points out that Truman made his share of mistakes, such as allowing Stalin to retain control over eastern Europe. However, Truman's decisiveness stopped the Soviets from dominating western Europe and Japan. Moskin shows that Truman's encounters with such strong egos from the Allied side as Churchill, de Gaulle, and Douglas MacArthur presented challenges almost as severe as his meetings with Stalin. About Truman's most controversial decision from this period, the determination to use the atomic bomb, Moskin sides with those who say it was necessary to prevent an even more costly invasion of Japan (although he does not offer a detailed argument). At this time of rapidly increasing tension between the US and the Soviet Union, Truman not only had to bring the world's most destructive war to a successful conclusion, but also had to grapple with such issues as the establishment of the United Nations and the beginning of the end of the British and French empires. Truman emerges as a resolutely honest, decisive, and plain-spoken chief executive who moved rapidly to put his own distinctive stamp on the job, unintimidated by the towering ghost of FDR. Truman was a dynamo of activity, somehow finding time to effect a thorough reorganization of the military and providing such entitlements as the GI Bill. In Moskin's portrait, Truman emerges as a man meeting the test of his life with courage, common sense, and great skill. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-40936-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1996

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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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