A fantastic addition to the shelves of World War I histories.



The first English-language account of a small army that actually took control of Siberia in 1918.

While developing his story, McNamara, an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and associate dean at Drexel University, explains the birth of the Czecho-Slovak nation and the tireless work of three exiles: Tomáš Masaryk, Edvard Beneš, and Milan Štefánik. The first—and most important—point the author makes is that, while sharing a similar language and the oppression of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks of Hungary and the Czechs of Austria were never one people, as evidenced by their split in 1993. In fervent hopes that the war would take long enough to cause the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, Masaryk traveled all over Europe seeking support for the establishment of a new country. His decision to go to Russia to organize a družina of Czecho-Slovak troops created the army that would ensure the birth of the country, Czechoslovakia, that would call him president. Originally only about 350 former prisoners of war, the army eventually grew to a well-disciplined, cohesive group of more than 200,000. The story is extraordinary, and McNamara follows the frustrations of the men who became foils for the Russians, the Germans, and the Allies. Originally scheduled for transport on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Vladivostok for transfer to ships and passage to the Western front, the Russians wanted them in Murmansk while the Allies needed them to establish a second front in the war. McNamara, an impressive storyteller armed with a treasure of documents only recently available, ably narrates the remarkable feats of these men who fought every inch of the way, “who found themselves described in some quarters as the first counterrevolutionaries of a new ear.” Though newspapers across the globe followed the trek, actual assistance was in short supply.

A fantastic addition to the shelves of World War I histories.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61039-484-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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