Canadian writer Bacque's shocking and controversial account of American mistreatment of four million German WW II POWs. Centering on American idol Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bacque's indictment strikes to the heart of the American dream, charging us with much the same kind of brutality that so incenses Americans when practiced by foreigners—allowing POWs to die by the tens of thousands from disease and starvation. In a skillfully organized, meticulously documented brief (86 pages of notes and appendices), Bacque charges Eisenhower not with neglect but with setting policy- -and charges subsequent authorities with a methodical cover-up, including destruction of evidence. The narrative is strongly detailed, beginning with an old Frenchman, accompanied by Bacque, opening an ancient, dusty box to find—nothing: missing evidence. From there we have a real-life thriller, complete with security forces bullying aged witnesses. Surprises are nonstop, beginning with a damning introduction by respected military historian Ernest F. Fisher, Jr., who speaks of Eisenhower's ``fierce and obsessive hatred of...all things German.'' There follows a jolting indictment of high American figures, starting at the top. The tone is set when Churchill walks out of a Big Three meeting as Roosevelt jokes with Stalin (recent perpetrator of the notorious Katyn Forest massacre) about exterminating prisoners. The point is driven home a thousand ways, most effectively in the knowledgeable analysis of Eisenhower's management style, which allowed subordinates to carry out policy with little paper to back them up. The general who sends military aircraft to pick up oranges for breakfast while prisoners are starving is especially memorable. Even more so is the repeated British refusal to countenance the US policy in principle and detail. Explosive and deeply iconoclastic, this book is sure to enrage many. Refutations without research as painstaking as Bacque's will lack credence.

Pub Date: July 1, 1991

ISBN: 1-55958-099-2

Page Count: 250

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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