The author’s information-gathering skills, especially his unearthing and decoding of previously classified documents, make...

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GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY AND THE COUNTDOWN TO NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION

A history of United States nuclear warfare based heavily on declassified documents.

Military Channel cofounder Keeney (Gun Camera Pacific, 2004, etc.) explains the evolution of U.S. mass-destruction weaponry from 1945 through 1968. The primary perspective is that of the Strategic Air Command, the high-powered organization developed by Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The author focuses on the first two possessors of nuclear weapons: the United States and the Soviet Union. In that sense, the book is also a history of the Cold War as defined by two superpower nations. U.S. presidents and military officials said they would never initiate the use of nuclear weapons, but rather wanted a strong retaliatory force to wipe out the Soviet Union in response to an attack. The no-first-strike claim might have sounded hollow, considering the United States had become the first, and only, nation to drop nuclear weapons on another country—Japan in 1945. Still, LeMay, as well as presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, apparently believed the rhetoric, and thus built up U.S. defense accordingly, at the cost of billions of dollars, tragic accidents and lost lives. With a cast of hundreds, the narrative becomes a dizzying welter of human names, agency names, geographic names and weaponry names. Keeney organizes the chapters by year, but within each chapter jumps around among various “episodic vignettes.” Most of the vignettes are clearly composed, but their arrangement is occasionally random.

The author’s information-gathering skills, especially his unearthing and decoding of previously classified documents, make the book worthwhile despite the difficulty following the interconnected sagas.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-61156-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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