A vivid, well-researched history of one of America’s many misguided military expeditions.

READ REVIEW

THE POLAR BEAR EXPEDITION

THE HEROES OF AMERICA’S FORGOTTEN INVASION OF RUSSIA, 1918-1919

A little-known piece of World War I history in a “frozen Hades, [the] last place on earth at the top of the world.”

Beginning in September 1918, 5,000 American soldiers spent a miserable year fighting Bolsheviks in the Russian Arctic. In this fast-paced account, journalist and historian Nelson (I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War, 2016) delivers a detailed, often gruesome narrative of this century-old campaign. In March 1918, Russia’s revolutionary government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers and withdrew from the war, freeing more than 1 million German soldiers to attack Russia’s former allies—Britain, France, and America—on the Western Front. Outraged, many Allied leaders yearned to reverse matters. Initially opposed to intervention, President Woodrow Wilson eventually agreed with the official explanation that it was required “to guard military stores which may be subsequently needed by Russian forces and to render such aid as may be acceptable to the Russians in the organization of their own self-defense.” As a result, the 339th Infantry Regiment and several ancillary units landed in Archangel in northwest Russia. They served under English command, complaining bitterly of the unpalatable food and inferior cigarettes. Nelson has turned up enough journals, letters, newspaper accounts, and memoirs to give an intimate, blow-by-blow description of a nasty campaign fought under unspeakable conditions against the Red Army, an initially ragtag unit that grew increasingly competent. The author reminds readers that these Americans were citizen soldiers, not professionals, yet they continued to obey orders after the war ended and during the Arctic winter, when temperatures dipped far below zero. More than 200 died. By year’s end, family, congressmen, and a few soldiers were complaining. In February 1919, Wilson directed the war department to plan their withdrawal, and by summer, they were gone.

A vivid, well-researched history of one of America’s many misguided military expeditions.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285277-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more