A boon for fans of Revolutionary-era military history.



An expert chronicle of an early Revolutionary War operation that deserves to be better known. Journalist and historian Kelly reminds readers that the summer of 1776 saw the end of the rebels’ first major campaign, and it wasn’t led by Washington, who was then engaged in his disastrous Long Island battles. A year earlier, a two-pronged American invasion of Canada had captured Montreal before disintegrating in the face of resistance, disease, and brutal winter weather. In June 1776, the miserable soldiers retreated to the Lake Champlain area. Few doubted that the victorious Canadians, reinforced by newly arrived British regiments, would follow. Breaking through the lake’s defenses, including the decrepit Fort Ticonderoga, would open the road to the Hudson River and the heart of the Colonies. The author describes four months of frantic activity around the lake, culminating in the October 1776 naval battle off Valcour Island in Lake Champlain. Led by Benedict Arnold, who “exerted his authority by means of a steely will, a profane tongue, and a hot temper,” the inferior American forces were overwhelmed after a brutal battle. However, the onset of winter persuaded the British to withdraw and return the following spring, when they met disaster in the form of a reinforced opponent at the Battle of Saratoga. Most historians agree that Valcour was a decisive campaign and that the three generals responsible (Philip Schuyler, Horatio Gates, and Arnold) performed well—even though all ended the war in disgrace. As in Band of Giants (2014), Kelly demonstrates his firm grasp of the period’s history and characters. Not content with biographies of the major figures and a fine account of the preparations and battle, he ably describes the military culture of the times, the self-defeating politics of the Continental Congress, the design and operation of the various ships, and the tactical problems of fighting on lakes versus the ocean. A boon for fans of Revolutionary-era military history.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-24711-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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