Though oddly selective—the battles of Leyte Gulf and the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa are barely mentioned—this is a...

THE FLEET AT FLOOD TIDE

AMERICA AT TOTAL WAR IN THE PACIFIC, 1944-1945

A skillful history of the final days of World War II, during which “America mastered the vast geopolitics of the Pacific.”

During this time, the industrial production of the United States helped to crush Imperial Japan, but the tide had already turned at Midway and Guadalcanal before American forces began this process. Nine months passed between the conquest of Guadalcanal (February 1943) and the launch of the great Central Pacific island-hopping campaign that began at Tarawa in November. After this background, naval historian Hornfischer (Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal, 2011, etc.) proceeds with his usual aplomb to recount what followed. In June 1944, the rejuvenated Navy supported Marines in their brutal conquest of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam while smashing Japan’s fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Ignoring Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s campaigns elsewhere, Hornfischer concentrates on the islands’ conversion to B-29 air bases, paying special attention to the development of the atom bomb and the Air Force unit that carried it to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan’s suicidal tactics convinced the Allies that conquering the mainland would require a massive effort, which the author describes in detail. Called Operation Downfall, the first invasion was scheduled for November 1945. It wasn’t required, and Hornfischer delivers the obligatory was-dropping-the-atom-bomb-necessary? debate, which concludes, unhelpfully, that there are pros and cons. The author is not the first to describe the political maneuvering behind Japan’s surrender, but he goes on to recount the remarkably peaceful arrival of occupation forces as MacArthur, a minor figure until this point, guided America’s treatment of the devastated nation with a generosity unparalleled in history.

Though oddly selective—the battles of Leyte Gulf and the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa are barely mentioned—this is a thoroughly satisfying account of the final years of World War II.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54870-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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