A succinctly instructive historical narrative by a top-notch historian and author.




A tightly focused study of the political reasons that the Allies hesitated to liberate Paris when they could.

Eminent historian Smith (Bush, 2016, etc.) has such a breadth of knowledge of this era in history that he is able to offer a distillation of swift-moving events surrounding the 1944 liberation of Paris in a marvelously readable fashion. Right from the beginning, the author smoothly sets the stage: While at first the occupation of Paris had seemed “a celebration of German victory” and a carnival for Germans on leave, as the military tide turned and brought food shortages and the Allied advance, the “collaborationists were beginning to look for cover.” At the same time, the Communists and Resistance fighters in the city grew bolder. Charles de Gaulle, an unknown officer at the beginning of the war, self-exiled to London and spent years in the “wilderness” decrying Nazi occupation and bolstering French resistance only to be sidelined by President Franklin Roosevelt, who “believed the future of France lay with [Marshal] Pétain and Vichy.” Smith underscores how Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, now supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, acted as a masterful go-between for these two defiant forces. As the Allies advanced into France in June 1944, de Gaulle was anxious to be at the head of French forces entering Paris. He was perplexed that Eisenhower, who regarded the liberation of Paris as a distraction that would cause his troops to get bogged down in street-by-street fighting, had planned to bypass the city. Ultimately, de Gaulle convinced him that if liberation were delayed, the Communists would seize power in the vacuum. The author also insightfully explores the work of Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, who was instructed by Hitler to reduce the city to ashes upon retreat yet craftily played both sides to save the day.

A succinctly instructive historical narrative by a top-notch historian and author.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6492-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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