An expertly researched addition to the military history/biography genre.



A new World War II history from a stalwart in the genre.

Plenty of niches remain to be explored in WWII history; Wukovits (Soldiers of a Different Cloth: Notre Dame Chaplains in World War II, 2018), who specializes in finding them, has found another. Military buffs will be grateful. The author begins with accounts of two promising young men—Billy Hoggs, a bright farmer’s son, and Eugene Mandeberg, a scholarly city dweller—who responded to American entry into the war by volunteering as naval aviators. After more than a year of highly technical and dangerous training, their unit arrived off the coast of Japan in July 1945. By then, no one doubted that the Allies had won, but since enemy leaders continued to proclaim that they would fight to the death, American forces concentrated on softening up Japan for a massive invasion scheduled for the end of the year. This was extremely dangerous work. Japan’s once-vaunted air force barely existed, but anti-aircraft defenses were stronger than ever. Wukovits delivers gripping nuts-and-bolts descriptions of the group’s missions over the following month. The atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6. The soldiers on the aircraft carrier in the area heard the news a day later and drew the obvious conclusion; no one was happy when their commander, William Halsey, announced that strikes would continue as long as Japan held out. Two more men died before the Aug. 15 mission. Japan officially surrendered two hours after it left, and it was called back. During the return, 20 Japanese fighters attacked suddenly, shooting down four American planes before being driven off. Inevitably, this cast a pall over the carrier’s victory celebrations. The survivors and the men’s families never forgave Halsey, but the incident faded from history until Wukovits, author of a Halsey biography, discovered enough material about two of the fliers to tell their stories.

An expertly researched addition to the military history/biography genre.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-306-92205-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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