A book every serious World War II student will want.




An in-depth study of the clash of the Japanese and Allied navies in Leyte Gulf, possibly the greatest naval battle of the 20th century.

Veteran military historian Prados (The U.S. Special Forces: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2015, etc.) has researched both U.S. and Japanese intelligence reports from the era, giving unusual insight into the decision-making on both sides. The Philippine invasion was a key step in the Allied strategy of securing bases for what was expected to be an invasion of the Japanese homeland. It was also one of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s cherished goals, recapturing territory he had lost to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, the Japanese, reeling from a series of defeats by U.S. forces, decided to throw everything into a decisive naval battle, hoping to lay the ground for a negotiated peace. Prados goes into great detail on the buildup and planning on both sides, with particularly close looks at the intelligence reports available to the planners. The Japanese plans were practically “an open book to the U.S.” On the other hand, the Japanese knew enough to avoid being caught off guard, though they were hampered by having to protect several likely targets. Prados points to mistakes on both sides, notably U.S. Adm. William Halsey’s taking the bait of a Japanese decoy maneuver that lured his carriers away from the main battle. In the end, while both navies took substantial damage, the Japanese navy was all but obliterated. Some readers may find the author’s buildup to the battle itself a bit long; it’s nearly halfway through the book before the first ship-to-ship combat, submarine attacks that sank two Japanese cruisers on the way to Leyte. Other readers may wish for a list of key personnel, especially on the Japanese side, early in the book. While casual readers may be put off, this is still a valuable resource, with a wealth of detail on all aspects of the battle.

A book every serious World War II student will want.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47361-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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