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THE FLEET AT FLOOD TIDE

AMERICA AT TOTAL WAR IN THE PACIFIC, 1944-1945

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

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. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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