A convincing, devastating deconstruction of Richard Nixon’s and Henry Kissinger’s Vietnam War policies that attempts to explode the “peace-with-honor” myth. Nixon spent a great deal of time after his resignation as president making a case for his foreign policy achievements. So, too, has former national security adviser Henry Kissinger. In many books, articles, and speeches, they have argued that they performed heroically in the Vietnam War. They claim they spent four years battling the duplicitous North Vietnamese, our intransigent South Vietnamese allies, a weak-willed, liberal Congress, a biased press, and a self-serving—if not communist-inspired—domestic antiwar movement to forge a peace with honor in January 1973. That peace, Nixon and Kissinger contend, was subverted by North Vietnamese treachery and Congress’s failure to support South Vietnam after the American troop pullout. Kimball (History/Univ. of Miami) delves deeply into Nixon’s and Kissinger’s interpretations of their decisions on Vietnam, compares them to many primary sources, and finds the Nixon and Kissinger arguments “incomplete, disingenuous and self-serving.” Kimball backs up his highly critical judgement in great detail in this heavily documented account, which concentrates on the diplomatic aspects of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s Vietnam policies. Kimball also looks at both men’s psychological makeup—describing Nixon as “antisocial, paranoid, narcissistic, [and] passive-aggressive”—and concludes that Nixon’s oft-proclaimed “peace with honor” was a myth manufactured by administration spin doctors. Nixon’s plan to end the war, Kimball says, was far from the well-organized, “proactive” strategy that the late president claimed. Nixon and Kissinger’s four years of war-making, in Kimball’s view, “unnecessarily prolonged the war, with all of the baneful consequences of death, destruction and division for Vietnam and America that this brought about.” Kimball puts Nixon’s and Kissinger’s Vietnam War maneuverings under a microscope and discovers a malignant cancer on the presidency. (History Book Club selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 1998

ISBN: 0-7006-0924-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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...


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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