Distinguished British military historian Keegan (A History of Warfare, 1993, etc.) poignantly weaves personal reflections and historical analysis together in an insightful, oddly charming account of the relationship between America's landscapes and the wars that have taken place on our continent. A self-confessed Americanophile (he begins and ends his account with the words "I love America"), Keegan eloquently writes of his deep feelings of affection for the nation and its people, of his first impressions of the transatlantic allies as a youth in WW II England, of his trips through the America of the 1950s and the very different country of the 1970s, and of his thoughts on certain unique qualities of American thought and character. Keegan offers little in the way of a unified historical theme or argument for his disparate observations on America. Instead, his account of American forts and battlefields seems to have more in common with the excellent English tradition of travel writing, a genre spiced with deep historical learning and insight. Keegan selects a broad range of battlefields, from the sites of the French and Indian Wars through the fortresses of the Revolution and the Civil War, to the battlefields of the Indian Wars of the western plains. In each case Keegan shows how geography—command of key rivers and other waterways and access to natural resources—dictated the course of the war. Keegan ends his American odyssey in Kitty Hawk, N.C., and meditates on the Wright brothers' achievement there, which presaged the aeronautical technology that would dominate war and travel in the 20th century. Fans of Keegan, aficionados of American military history, and Americanophiles of all kinds will delight in this learned, affectionate, and highly personal look at our peace-loving nation and its warlike history.

Pub Date: May 8, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42413-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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