Succeeds as both a graphic primer and a philosophical meditation.



Powerfully understated in both text and art, this matter-of-fact account of the atom bomb’s development renders scientific complexity intelligible.

There is no preaching here, so readers must ponder the illustrations of apocalyptic devastation in order to process the full implications of nuclear warfare. The framing of the narrative begins with the invocation of Prometheus, who took fire from the gods and gave it to mankind (“knowledge for which we weren’t ready”), and ends with the ominous: “If radiation were somehow visible…we would see this power everywhere we looked. We would see it in the dirt, in our bones, in the air and the water…And we would remember that this atomic force is a force of nature. As innocent as an earthquake. As oblivious as the sun. It will outlast our dreams.” The artistry of Fetter-Vorm, who has graphically adapted Beowulf and Moby-Dick, among other works, complements his stark prophecy, as it details the bomb’s development from the discovery of radioactivity by Marie Curie through the Manhattan Project led by leftist physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, through the decision by President Harry Truman to employ Hiroshima as not only a military target but a “test site.” The narrative leaves readers with the sense that few of those involved in the development or deployment of the bomb had a sense of the almost unimaginable devastation that would result. The use of the weapon not only caused a rupture in the relationship between Oppenheimer and Truman, it opened a Pandora’s box of radiation aftereffects beyond the initial horrors of the bombings (powerfully rendered here).

Succeeds as both a graphic primer and a philosophical meditation.

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8090-9468-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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