A fresh, rarely seen perspective on life during wartime.

DESTINATION UNKNOWN

ADVENTURES OF A WWII AMERICAN RED CROSS GIRL

Away from the smoke and the bullets but close enough to the colorful characters, a plucky Red Cross girl tells of her place in World War II’s Mediterranean Theater.

Wars are also fought from behind the front lines. This tale shows one woman and her Red Cross colleagues turning a small wheel in the massive American war machine of 1943. Debut author Kathleen Cox turns wartime letters and snapshots from her mother, LeOna, into a readable, often charming path from rural Minnesota to East Coast training and to following in the footsteps of the U.S. Army in North Africa, eventually onward to occupied Italy. Endearingly, the story lacks any pretense to bigness. At each stop, the elder Cox’s job was serving coffee, manufacturing pastimes for GIs, rooting out local embezzlers and, through it all, assuring her Minnesota parents that her adventures carried not even a whiff of danger. She hears of the Normandy landings through news reports, probably no sooner than her stateside friends; even a drive past Cassino, site of some of the heaviest fighting in the Italian campaign, comes a month after the Germans had been driven out. The named and nameless soldiers bask in simple things: talking to an American girl, swimming in a pool and treating the local children to ice cream. LeOna’s Red Cross service and her romance both show the power of the social economy among the troops and their supporters. Knowing the right people or simply charming the right enlisted men could get you a car or even an upgraded room at a seaside palace. The heart of the book, and an understandable focus for the younger Cox, is the story of LeOna’s romance with John Cox—a courtship that included drives through the Atlas Mountains, some innocent stowing away on a B-24 and (as Leona tells it) a small bargain with Pope Pius XII.

A fresh, rarely seen perspective on life during wartime.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466412484

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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