THE PRICE OF ADMIRALTY: The Evolution of Naval War

Keegan (The Mask of Command, 1987); Six Armies in Normandy, 1982; The Face of Battle, 1976; etc.) here offers a bravura appreciation of naval power down through the ages. In aid of his era-spanning study, the former Sandhurst lecturer (who points out that no Briton lives more than 80 miles from tidal waters) examines four landmark naval engagements, each of which featured different types of warship. First off, he analyzes 1805's battle of Trafalgar, in which England's wooden-wall vessels under the command of Lord Horatio Nelson defeated a French/Spanish fleet in atypically decisive fashion. More than a century later, in 1916, Germany's dreadnoughts achieved a Pyrrhic sort of victory over the Royal Navy off Jutland—the first clash of ironclads. With his customary economy and flair for telling detail, the author also recounts the battle of Midway, where US carrier forces slugged it out with a similar Japanese flotilla to gain an upper hand in WW II's Pacific theater. Last but not least, he audits the long-running Atlantic campaign in which Nazi U-boats (at no small cost) took a terrible toll on Allied shipping. Although Keegan focuses on just four remarkable conflicts, he does not restrict himself to their immediate circumstances and implications. In an interpretive afterword, for instance, he comments on the significance of UK losses to missiles and aircraft during 1982 encounters with Argentine forces around the Falkland Islands. The author does so, moreover, in the context of the development of true submarines (as opposed to "merely submersible" ships). Conceding that underwater communications remain a problem, Keegan speculates that one day the world's oceans may be largely empty of surface vessels. In addition, he assesses the piratical origins of naval warfare and includes a wealth of nautical lore. During the Napoleonic Wars, for example, British sailors threw dead comrades overboard (to keep decks clear for fighting); their French and Spanish foes had to do battle amidst the fallen because Catholic widows could not remarry in the absence of bodies to bury. A hell-and-high-water chronicle that's as absorbing as it is illuminating. The concise text includes 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations (not seen).

Pub Date: March 28, 1989

ISBN: 0140096507

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

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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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