THE UNSEEN WAR IN EUROPE

ESPIONAGE AND CONSPIRACY IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Outdoing the best spy fiction, former CIA inspector general Waller (Beyond the Khyber Pass, 1990, etc.) tells a series of riveting stories about the hidden war between the Germans and the Allies in WW II. From the beginning, the intelligence war was a central element of the conflict. Waller relates some well-known stories, like the breaking of the British naval fleet codes by the Germans, which contributed to the great success of the Nazi U-boat effort, and the similar breaking of the German Enigma enciphering machine by Allied intelligence, which allowed the British to anticipate German strategy on the continent. He also offers speculations on the intelligence background of WW II riddles like the Hess flight to Scotland and the assassination of Reinhold Heydrich, one of the most violent and ambitious members of Himmler's inner circle. However, Waller also travels some less familiar ground, particularly in his detailed profile of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the brilliant, enigmatic head of the Abwehr, the military intelligence unit of the German Ministry of War. Canaris despised Nazism, secretly assisted the Allied war effort, and ultimately participated in the doomed 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Waller also describes Operation X, which used Pius XII, an old friend of Canaris's, to help relay messages from the German Resistance movement to British intelligence; the ``Venlo incident'' in 1939, which cost Britain virtually its entire intelligence network on the continent; Allen Dulles's secret work as a ``special representative'' of FDR in Switzerland; and the intelligence intrigues surrounding the implementation of Hitler's invasion of France and his plan to invade the Soviet Union. More than a deft account of some some intriguing spy stories, Waller's history reminds us how crucial intelligence operations were to the war in Europe and to the Allies' ultimate success.

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-44826-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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