A painstakingly detailed history of the battle that exposed the myth of Nazi invincibility.




Jam-packed account of the moment in 1940 when Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace.

British historian Holland (Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944–45, 2007, etc.) provides a thorough reconsideration of the Battle of Britain that is both staggeringly technical and dramatically engaging. According to the author, the battle began well before RAF Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding’s squadrons took on Hermann Göring’s mighty Luftwaffe over southeast England in July 1940. It is hard now to imagine how isolated and vulnerable Britain had grown at the increasing demonstrations of German aggression. With its lightning thrust into Belgium, Holland and France in the spring of 1940, the Nazi war machine seemed invincible. The French, despite having greater forces than the Germans, “had fallen for Nazi spin-doctoring.” Hemmed in with the British along the Channel coast, the Allied forces were saved from annihilation by a last-minute halt by the Germans, allowing them a miraculous evacuation from Dunkirk. As the French crumbled, the British were largely expected to sue for peace as well, if the prevailing defeatist voices were to be believed. The galvanizing role of the new prime minister, Winston Churchill, has been amply documented elsewhere, and Holland underscores the power of his rhetoric in steeling the nation to its defiant task, aided by the press and media. Thanks to delays caused by bad weather and Nazi dithering, the British were gaining strength and producing new aircraft at startling speed, so that by July they were ready for the Luftwaffe’s onslaught. Holland uses numerous interviews with British and German pilots for respective takes on strategy, and he takes a frank look at the strengths and weaknesses of each side. In the end, Hitler could not launch an invasion of Britain until the RAF could be destroyed—and the British did not let that happen.

A painstakingly detailed history of the battle that exposed the myth of Nazi invincibility.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-67500-4

Page Count: 680

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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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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