Current-day readers, accustomed to an era of perpetual war with no end in sight, will find this expert, nuts-and-bolts...



A new history of the significant World War II battle in the Pacific, published to coincide with the 75th anniversary.

The battle of Guadalcanal, which lasted from August 1942 to February 1943, has produced a torrent of histories, many by the participants, but first-time readers will have no complaints about this straightforward account by journalist and historian Wheelan (Their Last Full Measure: The Final Days of the Civil War, 2015 etc.). Despite the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Allied leaders agreed that fighting Hitler took priority. Only fleet commander Ernest King disagreed, and when the Japanese began building an airfield on the obscure island of Guadalcanal, his warning that this might enable Japan to sever sea lanes to Australia persuaded American military leaders to take action. A hastily assembled Marine force under Gen. Alexander Vandegrift landed on the island, which contained mostly construction workers who fled. Underestimating the number and fighting quality of the Marines, the Japanese landed small and then increasingly large forces, but their banzai charges, which proved to be successful against poorly trained troops in China, did not work against the Marines—although several bloody assaults almost succeeded. Over the next months, the American Navy grew increasingly aggressive, more planes and reinforcements arrived, and the American position became impregnable. In November 1942, Vandegrift took the offensive; in February, the Japanese abandoned the island and began their long retreat. Wheelan rightly concludes, “after squandering opportunities to land large numbers of reinforcements in August and September—when Japan enjoyed air and naval superiority—the Japanese attempted to make up for it in October and November. It was too late; by then American air and naval forces had become too formidable.”

Current-day readers, accustomed to an era of perpetual war with no end in sight, will find this expert, nuts-and-bolts history of a famous victory thoroughly satisfying.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-306-82459-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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