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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet