A blow-by-blow overview of the Khe Sanh siege, which, more than 20 years after, still ranks among the Vietnam War's most controversial episodes. Prados (Keepers of the Keys, The Sky Would Fall, etc.) and Stubbe (a retired Navy chaplain who served at Khe Sanh) meld narrative and oral history to provide a stunningly detailed record of the bitter engagement. Combining big-picture perspectives with vivid accounts of small-unit actions, they pay effective tribute to the men who fought in one of the few pitched battles between American troops and North Vietnamese regulars, while giving US commanders the benefit of precious few doubts. Khe Sanh straddled Route 9, an old colonial road linking coastal Vietnam to Laotian market towns along the Mekong. During 1967, General Westmoreland began expanding the Special Forces camp there in hopes of using it as a springboard for an assault on Communist sanctuaries across the border—a scheme eventually rejected by LBJ. In the meantime, during the Tet offensive of 1968, the fortified outpost became the site of a major confrontation pitting about 6,000 Marines against two reinforced NVA divisions. Despite obvious differences, the American media likened the protracted encounter to Dien Bien Phu, where the French suffered a crushing defeat in 1954. As a practical matter, though, air superiority and a decisive advantage in firepower gave outnumbered US forces a substantive victory; the subsequent abandonment of the combat base after it had served its purpose, however, clouded this perception. Nor do the authors shed new light on the clash's outcome. Indeed, they leave essentially open the question of what both sides hoped to accomplish. Pending declassification of archives or the emergence of yet- unknown sources, Prados and Stubble provide as well-rounded a briefing as is available on a bitterly debated campaign. The engrossing text (marred only by a patent reluctance to trust the motives of military brass and their civilian masters) includes 64 photos (not seen), plus 16 helpful maps.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-395-55003-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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