A workmanlike, solid biography of a significant American military leader.

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ADMIRAL “BULL” HALSEY

THE LIFE AND WARS OF THE U.S. NAVY’S MOST CONTROVERSIAL COMMANDER

An admiring reappraisal of the belligerent fleet commander who carried the day for the American Navy during World War II.

Descended from a line of peripatetic buccaneers and sea captains, William F. Halsey (1882–1959) proved an indifferent student at the Naval Academy, but was “full of life and ready for action.” His early career benefited from Theodore Roosevelt’s plans to expand the Navy, and Halsey learned important lessons as a commander of destroyers after World War I. However, his love of aviation prompted his move to the aircraft carrier. By the spring of 1940, well liked by his men, truculent and with the appearance of a bulldog, he was put in charge of all Pacific aircraft carriers and their air groups. To his consternation, but ultimate good luck, he was out on maneuvers near Wake Island on Dec. 7, 1941, when he was apprised of the attack on the rest of the fleet at Pearl Harbor. Witnessing that scene of devastation and humiliation fueled his anger and determination for the duration of the war, sometimes to cringingly incendiary language (“Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs!”) Halsey proved to be the answer to a swift, bold offensive, and with the elevation of Chester W. Nimitz as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Halsey was sent to protect the crucial Midway-Johnston Island-Hawaii triangle from Japanese attack. His series of raids played well on the home front, and the press dubbed him “Bull” and “Knock-’em Down Halsey.” Subsequent decisive victories at Midway, Coral Sea and Guadalcanal stopped the Japanese advance. Military historian Wukovits (American Commando: Evans Carlson, His WWII Marine Raiders, and America’s First Special Forces Mission, 2009, etc.) deals evenly with Halsey’s precipitous, potentially disastrous decisions in October 1944 at Leyte Gulf, and later recklessness during two typhoons. However, the author makes a good case that Halsey was the much-needed warrior for America’s darkest hour.

A workmanlike, solid biography of a significant American military leader.

Pub Date: July 6, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-230-60284-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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