Based in part on interviews with camp survivors, Russell documents in chilling detail a shocking story of national betrayal.

THE TRAIN TO CRYSTAL CITY

FDR'S SECRET PRISONER EXCHANGE PROGRAM AND AMERICA'S ONLY FAMILY INTERNMENT CAMP DURING WORLD WAR II

Texas Monthly contributing editor Russell (Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson, 1999, etc.) recounts a dark episode in America’s past in this engrossing history of the forced detention of thousands of civilians in internment camps during World War II.

Soon after the nation entered the war, Franklin Roosevelt empowered FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to find and arrest Japanese, Germans and Italians—immigrants, their wives and their American-born children—in the United States and Latin America so that they could be “a ready source of exchange” for Americans imprisoned in enemy countries. When Eleanor Roosevelt opposed the project as smacking “too much of Gestapo methods,” Hoover started a file on her, too. Russell focuses on Crystal City, a camp designed especially for families, located near the Mexican border in the Texas desert. By the time it closed in 1948, it had housed more than 6,000 people. Conditions in the camp, monitored by the International Red Cross, were humane, both to comply with Geneva Convention provisions and to ensure that rumors of mistreatment did not exact reprisals against American prisoners abroad. Each family had separate living quarters with a kitchen and bathroom; a mess hall served three nutritious meals per day. At their own request, prisoners designed and built a pool “the size of a football field,” relief against the oppressive heat; when high school seniors wanted a prom, they had one, as well as graduation ceremonies. The camp’s administrator, Joseph O’Rourke, emerges as kind and caring, but he could not protect the families from the secret prisoner exchanges that sent thousands back to Germany and Japan, where families were shocked to find nations in rubble; nor from Truman’s edict requiring repatriation of “any enemy alien considered dangerous,” decisions summarily made on shaky evidence.

Based in part on interviews with camp survivors, Russell documents in chilling detail a shocking story of national betrayal.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9366-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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