A definitive work of World War II scholarship.



A comprehensive evaluation of the crucial role of the global food economy in the waging of war.

The starvation policy of the Nazi occupiers and the wartime exigencies that effectively transformed the diet as we know it are only two important aspects to this fascinating, authoritative work on food and war. In order to keep an army running smoothly and the civilian population pacified, writes Collingham (Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerers, 2006, etc.), a government had to control the food supply. This was equally true of Britain, Germany, Japan and the U.S., though it played out very differently during World War II. Creating a National Socialist empire relied on becoming self-sufficient, especially after the legacy of hunger and defeat wrought by World War I. According to Herbert Backe’s Hunger Plan, occupation of the Ukrainian breadbasket would deliver the resources to Germany only if the flow of food could be shut down to Russian cities, thus starving 30 million Soviet citizens (also Jews, indigenous inhabitants and prisoners of war). In the throes of an agricultural crisis, Japan was more reliant on imports from its colonies Formosa and Korea and later suffered starvation during the American blockade; moreover, the white-rice–based diet provided insufficient protein for the Japanese troops, and a more Chinese and Western diet was adopted. Britain relied heavily on its colonies to feed the wartime appetite, as well as on U.S. lend-lease supplies, only suffering from want during the winter of 1940–41 because of the U-boat blockade. Indeed, American farmers supplied the bounty of global wartime needs and also offered ample food at home. Collingham's study casts a staggeringly large net. She examines terrible famines in Bengal and Greece, the Soviet ability to withstand starvation, the role of the black market and how nutritional science reshaped the diet of soldiers and civilians.

A definitive work of World War II scholarship.

Pub Date: April 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59420-329-9

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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