A sturdy, readable resource that regards the Blitzkrieg as no magical matter.

THE RISE OF GERMANY, 1939-1941

THE WAR IN THE WEST, VOLUME 1

A lively study of the first part of World War II that moves along operational and tactical lines.

Concentrating on the beginning salvos of war in the West, British historian and novelist Holland (Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943, 2012, etc.) sticks close to the nuts-and-bolts angle of the various flare-ups, beginning with complacent American isolationism in mid-1939 and the rise of extremism in Germany and Italy in reaction to struggling economies. The author returns throughout this engaging narrative to several key players for an intimate look: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Galeazzo Ciano, who caught the rise of Benito Mussolini, married his daughter, and stood at the heart of discussions with the new Axis partner, Germany, intent on regaining the Danzig Corridor; Capitaine André Baufre, the French staff officer chosen for work in diplomacy, who had grave doubts about the French army’s preparedness; and Edward Spears, member of the British Parliament and Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s personal representative, who would observe the horrific fall of France. (Holland provides a terrific “cast list” as well as comprehensive maps throughout.) The author follows the earnest work for diplomacy, the U-boat danger in the North Sea, the Battle of Britain and vacillation over Norway, the justification for the widening war in the Mediterranean, and—most importantly—just how all those ships, tanks, and artillery were fabricated and delivered. Germany faced huge obstacles, including a fuel shortage and the superior manpower numbers of France and Britain. Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, was the only way to remedy the chronic shortage of resources, but it was incredibly risky—and, as Holland notes, “nothing less than total victory would suffice.”

A sturdy, readable resource that regards the Blitzkrieg as no magical matter.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2397-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more