Entertaining popular military history, mostly for fans of the genre.



A history of the fierce 1945 battle to recapture the island fortress in Manila harbor.

The U.S. suffered the greatest military defeat in its history after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941, although American and Filipino forces on Corregidor held out for a month before surrendering in May 1942. When the Americans returned to the Philippines in October 1944, Corregidor had little strategic but much symbolic value. Journalist Maurer is not the first to recount the nasty battle for its reconquest in February 1945. Carried by a fleet of transport aircraft, 3,000 men of the 503rd parachute regiment dropped on the island’s central high points, a particularly dangerous operation because there were no large open areas. Many men were injured. Expecting an amphibious assault, the Japanese were taken by surprise; however, based inside the island’s extensive tunnels, caves, and fortifications, all were under orders to fight to the death. About 4,500 did so, with only 119 taken prisoner; 228 Americans died. Much of the narrative is a series of gripping, somewhat scattershot accounts of small-unit firefights, ambushes, suicidal attacks, heroic feats, and tragic deaths. The sole map of the entire island is little help in following the action, so readers should sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Although the mission was a combined airborne and amphibious assault, Maurer relies heavily on unpublished memoirs by three paratroopers, so the seaborne landing is only mentioned in passing; readers searching for a more balanced account will need to look elsewhere. Having worked hard and long gathering material, Maurer crafts a narrative that reads less like serious history and more like a novel, with invented dialogue and melodrama. Still, history buffs can be assured that he gets his facts right.

Entertaining popular military history, mostly for fans of the genre.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4476-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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