Of great interest to students of WWII history, and a fine textbook for the military academies, with as many negative as...

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THE AMERICANS AT NORMANDY

THE SUMMER OF 1944--THE AMERICAN WAR FROM THE NORMANDY BEACHES TO FALAISE

A noisy, bloody, and highly readable account of the three-month-long Battle of Normandy.

Omaha Beach, so memorably depicted in the opening moments of Saving Private Ryan, was a slaughter. But, writes McManus (History/Univ. of Missouri), “once the strong German waterline defenses had been pierced, the advance inland was comparatively smooth.” Utah Beach, conversely, was an easy enough landing, but the Germans put up a fierce fight in the hedgerows beyond, and soon the resistance spread throughout Normandy, eventually costing the Allies 209,703 casualties, “of whom 125,847 were American.” Drawing on interviews with survivors as well as a wealth of documentary sources, McManus offers an almost firefight-by-firefight account of the battle, which is repetitive to the extent that the encounters were uniformly vicious and to the extent that the top leadership was so often badly informed. On the second point, for instance, McManus uncovers an unpleasant incident in which Allied pilots mistakenly bombed their own lines, killing scores of American troops (and nearly killing the famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who would die a year later at Okinawa). “The bombing had done some damage to the Germans, too, but that was beside the point,” McManus writes—that point perhaps being that miscommunications among Americans and British, among pilots and ground troops, among generals and privates, yielded constant danger for all involved. More disasters ensued, including a useless, costly detour into Brittany, for which McManus lays the blame squarely on Gen. Omar Bradley. What saved the day, it appears, was only the willingness of the soldiery to endure, coupled with some exceptional leadership from George Patton on down, including one junior lieutenant who authorized a truce after the colonel in charge of the line left orders not to be awakened.

Of great interest to students of WWII history, and a fine textbook for the military academies, with as many negative as positive examples for future strategists.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-765-31199-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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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

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