This record of essentially all 1943 British air operations will appeal to military buffs more than general readers, who may...

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AIRBORNE IN 1943

THE DARING ALLIED AIR CAMPAIGN OVER THE NORTH SEA

A densely detailed, chronological, frequently gruesome account of British bomber operations against Germany in 1943.

In that year, writes journalist Wilson (Blood and Fears: How America’s Bomber Boys of the Eighth Air Force Saved World War II, 2017), bomber crews “who made up only 7 percent of Britain and her empire in uniform yet took 25 percent of the total fatalities, dropped nearly four times the tonnage compared to that dropped by the Eighth Air Force. The tonnage of the USAAF, who suffered so much in Europe’s fight, would leap the following year.” The author has mined the archives and interviewed dozens of elderly survivors, so his accounts of perhaps 100 missions are rich in anecdotes as well as nuts-and-bolts technical descriptions, fireworks, blunders, courage, and death. Wilson disagrees with historians who denounce the massive air strikes of World War II. He denies that they were revenge for the Blitz because Allied airmen were already believers in strategic bombing. He also takes a dim view of postwar research that concluded the bombing was ineffective, agreeing that it was less effective than enthusiasts predicted but no more so than, say, the Italian campaign. The author admits that German war production increased throughout 1943, but he also points out that bombing made it increasingly expensive and inconvenient; air defenses required several million men, immense resources, and the majority of Luftwaffe planes that would have been better employed in Russia. Wilson’s vivid picture of the inaccuracy of nighttime bombing does not prevent him from emphasizing damage to industries from each attack—unlike most authors, who focus mostly on civilian casualties.

This record of essentially all 1943 British air operations will appeal to military buffs more than general readers, who may prefer three Martin Middlebrook masterpieces on missions from that year: The Battle of Hamburg, The Peenemünde Raid, and The Berlin Raids.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-880-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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