Poignant interviews by survivors and thoughtful reflections by a skilled journalist and historian combine to create a truly...




A comprehensive exploration of the Royal Air Force’s enormous toil and sacrifice in their efforts to wear down the Luftwaffe.

British journalist Wilson (Airborne in 1943: The Daring Allied Air Campaign over the North Sea, 2018, etc.) interviewed more than 100 surviving participants of these squadrons, along with members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and German fighters and witnesses, and he creates an eloquent, moving account of these relentless raids over German territory in the opening months of 1944. The author begins in medias res, with the grueling Battle of Berlin, a three month–long campaign that would grow so disastrous in numbers—6,185 crewmen lost their lives, 133 would become prisoners of war, 492 night bombers perished—that it ultimately proved a “campaign that [drained] the lifeblood from Bomber Command.” Moreover, the extent to which it contributed to the crippling of the Nazi war machine is debatable, as the damage to Berlin was relatively mild, to the dismay of Air Marshal Arthur “Butch” Harris, who had promised Prime Minister Churchill that the Berlin air campaign “would cost Germany the war.” However, unlike the firestorm that destroyed Hamburg the previous July, the wide boulevards of Berlin did not lend themselves to extensive area-bombing damage. British soldiers were further hindered by the foul weather and the ingenious “Schräge Musik” design of the German Nachtjäger planes, which were effective against the British Lancasters and Halifaxes. Wilson organizes the narrative by season, moving from winter’s heavy tolls and lowest points of morale after night campaigns over Berlin, Magdeburg, Leipzig, and Nuremberg to spring’s more successful Transportation Plan—i.e., cutting German lines of communication in northern France and Belgium in the run-up to D-Day. Ultimately, despite Harris’ resistance, it was the targeting of the oil plants in the Ruhr that would be "the war winner.”

Poignant interviews by survivors and thoughtful reflections by a skilled journalist and historian combine to create a truly touching war portrait.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-006-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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