WITH SNOW ON THEIR BOOTS

THE TRAGIC ODYSSEY OF THE RUSSIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE IN FRANCE DURING WORLD WAR I

A little-known story, largely overlooked by historians, about the fate of two brigades of Russian soldiers sent to fight on the western front in 1916. Cockfield (Russian History/Mercer Univ.) has done prodigious research. Russia's military production capacities were notoriously limited. The French army, having taken staggering casualties during the first two years of the war, offered Russia, with its seemingly vast manpower resources, an attractive exchange: If Russia sent troops west, France would send munitions east (cynics referred to the deal as ``flesh for shells''). The French hoped for 400,000 replacements; they eventually received 50,000. The Russians found life in France, despite the horrors of battle, rather liberating. Russian troops, drawn largely from the peasant class, were used to brutal treatment by their officers, inadequate rations, and no freedom. By contrast, the Allied troops, even in wartime, seemed remarkably well fed and vocal. Still, mutinies among war-weary French veterans spread to Russian troops, drunk with the Bolshevik promise of freedom. And as revolution engulfed Russia, the troops on the western front found themselves in a microcosm of the civil war going on back home between the ``Reds'' and the ``Whites.'' The troops began to sort themselves into opposing, violent camps. Eventually the ``Whites'' prevailed and, reorganized as the Russian Legion of Honor, went on to fight the Germans on the western front with vigor and determination. Cockfield carries his narrative beyond the war, tracing the varying fates of the Russian veterans. Some eventually chose repatriation to Russia. Others swelled the Russian ÇmigrÇ community in France. Cockfield's book, even though it sometimes stresses facts over analysis and narrative over conclusions, fills a void in the history of the Great War. A sad and generally engrossing study.

Pub Date: March 30, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-17356-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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

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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