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NORMANDY '44

D-DAY AND THE BATTLE FOR FRANCE

Far from the first but among the better histories of the Allied invasion of Europe.

A fine account of the familiar but eternally fascinating 1944 Normandy landing and campaign.

Veteran military historian Holland (Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II, 2018, etc.) knows the drill but doesn’t hesitate to wander from the script. He begins with the massive planning of the invasion, emphasizing that previous Allied seaborne landings were disasters (Dieppe), near disasters (Salerno), or disorganized efforts against weak opponents (North Africa, Sicily). According to Allied intelligence, Normandy would be a far greater operation against a prepared enemy. “Ensuring enough men and materiel were landed quickly enough…before any concentrated enemy counter-attack could be mounted was the absolute number-one priority,” writes the author. In fact, Germany lacked the resources to fortify more than 1,000 miles of Atlantic coast, and Holland delivers an expert account of their efforts. German Gen. Erwin Rommel, the commander in Northern France, wanted to fight at the beaches; his superiors, including Hitler, wanted an organized defense inland. Since historians usually prefer Rommel to Hitler, they look kindly on his plan, but it’s unlikely either would have worked. The Allies achieved complete surprise, and success was never in doubt. Historians concentrate on the carnage at Omaha Beach; Holland points out that the defenders inflicted terrible casualties from their bunkers, but all they could do was shoot. They had no tanks or reinforcements for a counterattack, and Allied naval gunnery pounded them mercilessly; they were doomed. Focusing on the landing, the Allies paid little attention to what might follow, and it took nearly two more months of bloody fighting before the Wehrmacht collapsed. A skillful writer, Holland delivers the occasional jolt, such as a mild rehabilitation of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Even contemporaries criticized his careful preparation and slow advances, but the author points out that this took maximum advantage of superior Allied resources and saved lives.

Far from the first but among the better histories of the Allied invasion of Europe.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2942-0

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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NIGHT

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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