SOLDIERS

A HISTORY OF MEN IN BATTLE

A companion piece to an upcoming BBC TV series of the same title from the authors of, respectively, Six Armies in Normandy and Acts of War. The profusely and imaginatively illustrated text represents a contribution to the bloody, hellish history of war, primarily for its compassionate appreciation of the battlefield experience. Keegan and Holmes (both members of the Sandhurst faculty) eschew a strictly chronological approach, canvassing instead the evolution of weapons and their users. According to the authors, soldiers—warriors who fight for pay—"are comparative latecomers to the field of human conflict." Among the survivors of this exacting trade, they point to the infantryman whose ancestry includes Mesopotamian spear carriers, Roman legionnaires, French poilus, and American GIs. Foot soldiers have endured down through the ages to fight in Vietnam, the Falklands, and Afghanistan. Their mounted counterparts, Keegan and Holmes show, have proved more vulnerable. Horsemen dominated the world's battlegrounds for many centuries, and Russia's Marshal Koniev had six divisions under his command during the final stages of WW II. But muskets, then cannon and machine guns have long since limited cavalry's role. Eventually, tankers became the military's mobile strike force; in turn, however, their tactical utility has been curbed by the march of technology which produced fragmentation warheads "dispensed by aerial bomb, missile, and artillery shell." In the meantime, the already lethal state of the ordnance art has advanced to the point where latter-day gunners can deliver nuclear as well as high-explosive payloads at intercontinental range, Also covered are the routinely courageous exploits of airmen and combat engineers—"the stagehands of the theatre of operations, without whose brave and laborious efforts armies could scarcely find the means to come to grips with each other." Nor do Keegan and Holmes scant the contributions of rear-echelon supply specialists who attend to logistics and of commanders whose awful responsibility it is to be both wise and bold in the expenditure of life. In addition to detailing the many ways in which man has done battle, the authors bear constant witness to the high price of armed conflict. Their humane regard for both victims and victors is explicit in a separate chapter on casualties, which tells graphic terms just how dreams of glory can end in gore. A thoughtful, focused study of warfare, brimful of front-line insights and intelligence.

Pub Date: March 1, 1986

ISBN: 1568521103

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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