Best of all, the author—who has a solid body of fiction to his credit—is a consummate storyteller; not only does the book...

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MARKED FOR DEATH

A HISTORY OF THE FIRST WAR IN THE AIR

World War I was a time of vast changes, notably the development of aerial combat. Here’s a look at how it came to be.

Hamilton-Paterson (Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World, 2010, etc.) looks at the war from a mostly British perspective, noting how the ups and downs of the Royal Flying Corps were emblematic of the growing pains of military aviation. At first, military leaders saw the airplane as a mobile observation post, reporting enemy strongpoints and troop movements. But ground troops fired at the unwanted flying spies, and soon the men in the planes were shooting at each other. Barely two months after the armies mobilized, a French aviator downed a German plane, and the air war began in earnest. However, the dogfights were only the tip of the iceberg. The author shows how decisions made by politicians, the owners of aircraft factories, inventors, engineers, and the men who turned new recruits into fighter pilots affected the air war. Most of them were making it up as they went along; nobody knew much about flying, and their machines were incredibly primitive by today’s standards. Inevitably, though, some became expert at the deadly game: the first aces. Hamilton-Paterson gives the likes of “Red Baron” von Richthoven and his French and English rivals their due, but the less-familiar aspects of the air war fascinate him, as well: German bombing raids on London, the almost criminally lax training regimes, and the planes themselves. The account is enlivened by quotes from pilots’ journals and letters home. While the author focuses mainly on the British war effort, there are enough looks into other nations’ inaugural attempts to build an air force to round out the picture.

Best of all, the author—who has a solid body of fiction to his credit—is a consummate storyteller; not only does the book tell a fascinating story, it is nearly impossible to put down.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-158-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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