Slices of life in the American occupation army in postWW II Germany as seen through the eyes of an impressionable young combat infantryman, matched with his mature observations of a rebuilt Germany 50 years later. Standifer, who chronicled his combat experiences in Not in Vain: A Rifleman Remembers World War II (not reviewed), served in the 94th Infantry Division in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bavaria after V-E Day. Germany was without food reserves or money, and its cities were in ruins. Millions of its men were in POW camps. Civilians survived by trading their possessions, services, and souvenirs with GIs (who ignored nonfraternization regulations) for coffee, cigarettes, and army rations. Standifer's narrative has many absorbing and vivid episodes, including some revealing exchanges with German POWs and a droll account of the Allied victory parade in Prague (General Patton allowed only combat veterans who had been rigorously drilled to take part, intending to best the marching skills of other Allied troops). The author, born in Mississippi, writes frankly about his growing rapport with the men in a black GI unit (at a time when the army was still segregated), and with equal frankness about his experiences with German women. An older Standifer (professor emeritus of horticulture at Louisiana State Univ.) ponders the loss of youth when he and his buddies left for the army as adolescents and returned from the war as ``old men,'' and the nature of the shared misery at the heart of war. He admits that, despite his grim surroundings, he enjoyed his service in the occupation forces. In general, he notes, he lived better as a soldier than he had in Depression-ravaged Mississippi, giving new life to the the old army bromide ``He found a home in the army.'' A deeply felt remembrance, recorded in an honest, unadorned manner.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8071-2094-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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