It’s a dismal piece of history, well told and familiar, but Clark provides plenty of juicy details and a mildly...

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BLITZKRIEG

MYTH, REALITY, AND HITLER'S LIGHTNING WAR: FRANCE 1940

A leading British historian delivers a new history of Germany’s 1940 invasion of France.

Hitler’s invasion was a daring operation in which troops pierced the seemingly impassible Ardennes Forest and shattered the Allied army. This is the traditional account, and, according to Clark (Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History/Univ. of Buckingham; The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943, 2011, etc.), that’s pretty much what happened. Without a doubt, it was spectacular, and the author writes a masterly account teeming with vivid personalities and the usual mixture of heroism, incompetence, and luck. Clark emphasizes that Germany’s high command was as unimaginative as France’s. When Hitler’s generals proposed invading through Belgium, he objected, stressing that it hadn’t worked in 1914. Furthermore, France expected it. It took more rejections before a few adventurous generals produced the plan that caught his fancy. However, it was not a given that it would succeed. On May 10, 1940, an army attacked the Low Countries, preoccupying the main Allied force. When German troops emerged from the Ardennes three days later, they faced the Meuse River, a substantial barrier. Had the Allies rushed reinforcements at that moment, the outcome might have been different. As it was, Wehrmacht forces poured across and raced to the Channel, cutting off the main Allied army. The remainder retreated for a month until Marshal Pétain took office and, overcoming modest opposition, requested an armistice. Clark maintains that this was not a blitzkrieg—i.e., a massive attack spearheaded by tanks—but an extremely risky traditional operation, carried out energetically and significantly aided by chance, weather, and an inflexible enemy.

It’s a dismal piece of history, well told and familiar, but Clark provides plenty of juicy details and a mildly controversial reinterpretation.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2513-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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 sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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