A great one-volume interpretation, the equal of Rick Atkinson’s recent version and almost equivalent to much longer, older...




“Before Alamein we never had a victory; after Alamein we never had a defeat”: one of many memorable Churchill-isms that do not survive the acute eye of writer and filmmaker Dimbleby in this fine account of Britain’s 1940-1942 North African campaign.

When Italy entered the war in June 1940, its North African colonies’ 250,000 soldiers vastly outnumbered 36,000 in Egypt under harried Gen. Archibald Wavell, who defended an immense area while fending off Churchill’s exhortations to attack. Aware of their dilapidated forces, Italian generals reluctantly advanced in September. After some skirmishing, Wavell attacked, advancing 500 miles and capturing 100,000 prisoners. At this point, Churchill ordered three divisions transferred to Greece to meet a coming German invasion, and Hitler sent several divisions and his favorite general, Erwin Rommel. Disobeying orders to remain on the defensive, he drove Wavell’s forces back into Egypt. Churchill replaced Wavell with Gen. Claude Auchinleck, whose November 1941 offensive overwhelmed Rommel, a dramatic victory that evaporated when Rommel unexpectedly counterattacked, routing Auchinleck’s overstretched forces. By summer, with Rommel back in Egypt, Auchinleck was gone. By the time his successor, Montgomery, attacked in November 1942, Allied control of sea and air reduced Rommel’s supplies to a trickle, and the outcome is well-known. The Desert Campaign remains the most satisfying of World War II. Civilians were scarce, so Germans could demonstrate their prowess without the usual atrocities. The British revealed their distinctive stubbornness in defense and slowness in offense, hobbled by inferior equipment and unimaginative generals.

A great one-volume interpretation, the equal of Rick Atkinson’s recent version and almost equivalent to much longer, older accounts by Barrie Pitt and Alan Moorehead.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60598-479-7

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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