BATTLE OF THE BISMARCK SEA

Here, McAulay (Where the Buffalo Fight, 1987 paperback), a retired Australian officer, presents an arresting account of one of the decisive naval battles of WW II, and, despite somewhat awkward narration, does a good job of analyzing the human and strategic factors underlying this crucial Allied victory. By March 1943, defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal had checked the progress of the Japanese Imperial Navy after its dizzying victories over American, British, and Dutch naval forces in the early stages of the war. Nonetheless, the presence of Japanese forces in New Guinea stubbornly continued to threaten Australia. In particular, despite some reverses in New Guinea, the Imperial Army continued to hold Lae, a strategic position on the coast of northeast New Guinea, and planned to deliver a formidable armed force to Lae by convoy. As a result of American intercepts of Japanese coded messages (and inspired guesswork by American general George Kenney and Australian commander ``Blackjack'' Walker), the Allied air forces—a motley band of Australians and Americans flying a makeshift collection of aircraft—were able to attack and destroy the convoy without major losses. McAulay's narrative is largely a description of this destruction, from the point of view of both Allied fliers and Japanese soldiers and sailors (the author's extensive use of Japanese diaries is fascinating and effective). However, while McAulay's account is informative and forthright, his prose style becomes turgid at times; and he fails to discuss adequately the strategic importance of the battle (which represented the final defeat of the Japanese military in its drive toward Australia). Nonetheless, the inherent drama of the story makes for compelling reading about an important and oft-neglected naval engagement. (Twenty-four pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-05820-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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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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