An accessible history that conveys the havoc and vast international spread of D-Day.




An engrossing work that cuts and pastes chaotic events for order and sense in a manner very much like fiction.

Mayo, who previously tackled The Assassination of JFK: Minute by Minute, has found through the use of montage an effective way to tell the history of these momentous events fed by thousands of smaller stories that make up the whole. Indeed, there are so many parts to the Allied invasion that the only way to tell it comprehensively is by picking and choosing and editing in the present tense, from the actions of the humble American GI, quaking with fear at the tumult coming, to the inner workings of the Map Room of Southwick House, London, where Cmdr. Dwight Eisenhower nervously awaited the weather report for June 6. All the world knew the invasion was coming, even the Germans, but the exact moment was an amazingly well-kept secret. Even when the action started, with the BBC’s reading of a Verlaine poem that acted as a coded message to the French Resistance, German intelligence and field marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Erwin Rommel, lulled by the bad weather and the effectiveness of the deceptive Allied Operation Fortitude, did not believe it was the real thing. Gradually, Mayo puts the pieces together, chronologically, aided by different fonts and typefaces, from extracts of conversations and diaries—e.g., that of Joseph Goebbels, commenting on the Fuhrer’s good mood, and Anne Frank, whose attic-bound family eagerly anticipated the invasion—to the troops’ horrifically nauseous crossing of the English Channel, the enormous strains on airborne and infantry divisions under fire on Omaha Beach, and the work of Life photographer Robert Capa.

An accessible history that conveys the havoc and vast international spread of D-Day.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7294-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Marble Arch/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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