IWO JIMA

MONUMENTS, MEMORIES, AND THE AMERICAN HERO

An unusual exploration by Marling (George Washington Slept Here, 1988; Art History/Univ. of Minn.) and Wetenhall (Curator/Birmingham Museum) of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and the use to which that incident was put both during and after the war. As the potential solution to the problem of the long distances involved in bombing Japan, the American attack on Iwo Jima came as no surprise. But the taking of the island proved a formidable objective, with 21,000 Japanese troops entrenched in an underground network of defensive installations. Casualties were heavy, but by the end of the fourth day a 40-man patrol from Easy Company managed to fight its way to the top of Mt. Suribachi, dominating the island, and raise the flag. At that point, Japanese defenders, maddened by the sight, tried to challenge them, but were driven back to their bunkers. The flag was an inspiration to the American troops, but it was small and not easily visible, so the company colonel ordered a larger one run up so ``every son of a bitch on this whole cruddy island can see it.'' It was this second flag- raising that was captured in the celebrated photograph by Joe Rosenthal of AP, but, as the authors explain, the truth of its being only a replacement effort was lost in what followed. Under the news management of the Marines—who knew a good thing when they saw it—the politicians (who needed protection against the heavy losses that had been incurred), the war-bonds salesmen (who raised money), the arts establishment (which wanted commissions) and the public (which craved heroes) all ironically found the genuine heroism of the assault and the subsequent fighting embodied in a moment that had, in truth, not been memorable. Overextended at 312 pages, even with the wealth of accompanying photographs—but fascinating nonetheless.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-674-46980-1

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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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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