Based on years of interviews and research, Horwitz delivers a powerful, engrossing narrative that raises serious questions...

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WAR OF THE WHALES

A TRUE STORY

Living Planet Books co-founder Horwitz chronicles an ongoing collision of epic proportions between the U.S. Navy, intent on protecting its submarine warfare program, and environmental activists, who fight to save whales from extinction.

The author begins in March 2000, when, over several days, “the largest multispecies whale stranding ever recorded” occurred across 150 miles of beach in the Bahamas. Rescue efforts led by Ken Balcomb, a researcher who was conducting a census of whales in the area, were mostly unsuccessful, but he was able to preserve their bodies for later forensic examination. Having served as a naval sonar expert, Balcomb surmised that training exercises involving a top-secret “Sound Surveillance System,” developed during the Cold War to monitor Soviet nuclear submarines, were likely responsible. The use of high-decibel, low-frequency sonar signals by the Navy would have overwhelmed the whales' biosonar system and caused physiological damage as well. This was not the first such incident of whale strandings in the vicinity of naval exercises—nor, unfortunately, the last. The author reports on the battle led by Balcomb and Joel Reynolds—a senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council—to force the release of the forensic evidence and the attempts by the Navy’s top brass to stonewall any serious investigation that could lead to curtailment of their activities. The battle led to a court ruling against the Navy for overriding environmental law. The Bush administration overturned the court decision by executive order on grounds of national security, and the NRDC countered legally, asking for a ruling on the administration's action. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the administration was within its rights, but it opened the door for the requirement of “comprehensive Environmental Impact Statements” in advance of any future naval maneuvers.

Based on years of interviews and research, Horwitz delivers a powerful, engrossing narrative that raises serious questions about the unchecked use of secrecy by the military to advance its institutional power.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4501-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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...

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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