Precious few secrets are revealed in this densely scattershot look at multiple aspects of the Vietnam War. Perhaps a better title for this wide-ranging book might be “An Enormous Number of Vietnam War Facts and Figures Covering Many Different Aspects of the War, Some of Which Are Not Widely Known, and Many of Which Are Readily Available in Dozens of Books.” Among the few facts that conceivably fit the title’s sensational promise are that 30 percent of the Americans who died in the war were Roman Catholics; that “underage boys” enlisted in the US military to fight in the war; that some renegade Japanese troops and Nazi Germans fought briefly with the Viet Minh against the French in the years following WWII; and that the communist side suffered from desertion and draft-dodging. Almost none of the other myriad facts on dozens of subjects, marshaled by the prolific military historians Dunnigan and Nofi (Victory at Sea: World War II in the Pacific, 1995, etc.), are bona fide secrets. The information given is either merely not widely known, fairly well known, or very well known to nearly anyone. In the latter category belong sundry authorial proclamations: that during the war “territory was commonly taken, lost, and retaken repeatedly, a particularly disheartening experience for the troops who got shot up doing it”; that there “was no hero’s welcome for the returning [American] soldiers”; and that “Americans held prisoner by the enemy had a rough time.” Aside from such banalities, the authors include a blizzard of statistical information on military hardware and personnel matters, much of it interesting and much of it seemingly accurate, although Dunnigan and Nofi provide only a minimal amount of supporting documentation. A decent enough look at many pertinent aspects of the Vietnam War that can't live up to its hyperbolic title.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-19857-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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...


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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