A worthy companion to Frederick Taylor’s Dresden (2004), shedding new light on a neglected chapter of the air war in Europe.




A thoroughgoing history of the Allied bombing campaign that leveled a great German city—but did little damage to the Nazi war machine.

“I have very little problem with the fact that Hamburg was bombed,” writes history editor and novelist Lowe (New Free Chocolate Sex, 2005, etc.). The city was, he writes, a center of war-related manufacture, a place where U-boats and aircraft were produced in great number. Yet the historically anglophilic city, a center of resistance to Nazi rule early on, had to be sacrificed: At that stage of the war, bombing German cities, Lowe argues, was the one way the Western allies had to show the long-suffering Russians that they were doing anything meaningful against their common enemy—and, at the same time, diverted resources from the Russian Front. Moreover, Hamburg was a victim of a British leadership schooled in the trenches in WWI, convinced that bombing enemy civilians was not such a bad thing given the morale-reducing effects this could have on their loved ones in the military. The head of the British air command, “Butcher” Harris, selected two advance targets, the seaport cities of Lübeck and Rostock, because “their crowded wooden buildings were highly flammable, and would provide a perfect opportunity for Harris to test his belief that incendiaries, rather than high explosive, were the most efficient means of destroying a city.” They were indeed, and Harris hurled wave after wave of bombers against the heavily defended city, raining a hell of fire and killing nearly 45,000 civilians in a week and leaving another million homeless. Describing this carnage in gruesome detail, Lowe reckons that this apocalyptic attack on Hamburg was “more akin to the annihilation that would soon become possible in the nuclear age” than to anything that passed as conventional bombing at the time.

A worthy companion to Frederick Taylor’s Dresden (2004), shedding new light on a neglected chapter of the air war in Europe.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-6900-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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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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