NORMANDY CRUCIBLE

THE DECISIVE BATTLE THAT SHAPED WORLD WAR II IN EUROPE

A fresh point of view on the 1944 battle that emphasizes intelligence, logistics and the battle’s unexpected strategic consequences.

While researching Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II (1995), prolific military historian Prados (How the Cold War Ended, 2010, etc.) noticed that histories of the Normandy campaign paid scant attention to ULTRA code-breaking (declassified in the 1970s) and provided weak explanations of why the Wehrmacht, fleeing in disorder in August, recovered so quickly. The author concentrates on the month from mid-July to mid-August, six weeks after the landing. The British were battling for Caen, nine miles from the coast despite its scheduled capture on day one. Stalled American forces were about to launch Operation Cobra, another offensive aimed at breaking out. Allied frustrations paled next to those of the Germans, who were vastly outnumbered and harried by Allied air supremacy. By the end of August, the Allies were racing across France and predicting victory by Christmas. A month later, they suffered a bloody nose at Arnhem, and by November resistance brought the advance to a halt. This should have come as less of a surprise because ULTRA intercepts as early as June revealed Germany mobilizing another million men. In addition, despite Hitler’s penchant for stand-fast orders and suicidal offensives, he worked hard to strengthen defenses on Germany’s Western border. Prados has done his homework, writes fine battle descriptions and makes a convincing case that events during the summer of 1944 predicted the subsequent course of the war.

 

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-451-23383-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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