BAT BOMB

WORLD WAR II'S OTHER SECRET WEAPON

Another batman has returned—this one with inside information on a wondrously droll, highly classified yarn from WW II. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Couffer (The Lions of Living Free, 1972, etc.), on the strength of his experience as a teenage student assistant to a mammalogist employed by the Los Angeles County Museum, became a key player in one of military history's weirder chapters. The idea was to attach small incendiary bombs to millions of bats that would be released over Japan's largest cities; once the bats had roosted, the scheme's backers assumed, fires would flare up in remote recesses of the wood and paper structures common in Japan's urban areas, reducing major population centers to ashes. The notion of kamikaze bats was dreamed up and promoted by an eccentric oral surgeon, Lytle Adams (known as ``Doc''), whose powers of persuasion were such that he not only enlisted the personal support of FDR but also gained federal funds for his brainchild. Drawing on his own observations as the youngest member of Doc's odd little army, and on declassified archival sources, Couffer recalls the ultrasecret work that he and his offbeat colleagues did in out-of-the-way venues ranging from Bandera, Texas (a hamlet convenient to bat caves), through Utah's Dugway Proving Grounds. Despite technical difficulties, personality conflicts, turf battles, and allied woes, the intrepid members of Project X- Ray achieved a significant measure of success. Indeed, in their first one-way flight test bat bombers burned a new auxiliary air base to the ground. But early in 1944, the Pentagon killed the promising plan—in order, Couffer believes, to concentrate on the development of the atomic bomb. A well-told, stranger-than-fiction tale that could make a terrific movie. (Thirty-three b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1992

ISBN: 0-292-70790-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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