A well-researched, mostly engrossing geopolitical narrative of American ingenuity in the face of Russian threats.

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THE TAKING OF K-129

HOW THE CIA USED HOWARD HUGHES TO STEAL A RUSSIAN SUB IN THE MOST DARING COVERT OPERATION IN HISTORY

Meticulous account of an audacious covert operation to snatch a sunken Russian submarine.

Outside magazine correspondent Dean (Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred, 2012, etc.) ably resurrects the forgotten Cold War drama of Project Azorian, showcasing governmental and engineering derring-do, seemingly impossible in both its difficulty and secrecy. Following the K-129’s disappearance in the Pacific in 1968, some American officials realized, “if the US Navy could locate the sub’s precise location, it might be able to access the wreck and mine it for a host of valuable intelligence.” This fell to the CIA, which recruited civilian experts in multiple fields to design a ship equipped with a deep-mining derrick and clawlike “capture vehicle” to pluck the sub off the seafloor. They also developed a plausible cover story, involving new ocean-mining technologies pursued by reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Dean captures the personalities and patriotism of the industrialists, engineers, and spies who stealthily built the Hughes Glomar Explorer and perfected large-scale systems so cutting edge that it remained unclear “whether or not they could locate, grab, and lift a submarine three miles deep in the ocean.” The high-risk voyage went forward in 1974 and was partially successful, as a large portion of the submarine broke off while being raised; one engineer “was stunned at how little of the sub remained.” Plans for a follow-up mission were scuttled when the story leaked in the press following a mysterious burglary at a Hughes facility. This created a delicate situation for the new Gerald Ford presidency; to avoid impacting the politics of détente, writes the author, “both sides would pretend as if the boldest and most outlandish intelligence operation in history had never happened.” Dean is verbose in laying out this improbable tale, with a fondness for occasionally extraneous detail, but this style is well-suited to a complex adventure spanning six years and numerous principal characters.

A well-researched, mostly engrossing geopolitical narrative of American ingenuity in the face of Russian threats.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98443-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 27, 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...

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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