An inspiring illumination of a hero who deserves recognition.

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THE GREAT FIRE

ONE AMERICAN'S MISSION TO RESCUE VICTIMS OF THE 20TH CENTURY'S FIRST GENOCIDE

Ureneck (Journalism/Boston Univ.; CabinTwo Brothers, a Dream and Five Acres in Maine, 2011, etc.) brings to light the miracles of a little-known hero.

In 1922, Asa Jennings was a Methodist minister working as a secretary for the YMCA assigned to Smyrna, located in modern-day Turkey. Smyrna, occupied by Greece, was the richest and most multicultural city of the eastern Mediterranean. Jennings and his family arrived shortly after the Turkish Nationalist Army defeated the Greeks at Afyonkarahisar-Eskishehir. The Nationalist’s leader, Mustafa Kemal, continued the policies of the “Young Turks” who had taken over the government. Ureneck’s research is thorough and wide-ranging as he explains the 500 years of conflict between Greece and Turkey, the World War I years of the Armenian genocide, and the new government’s policy of Turkey for the Turks, barring all others. Jennings’ appeals for evacuation to the American senior Naval officer, Adm. Mark Lambert Bristol, were generally ignored. Bristol was a well-known supporter of the Nationalists and harbored little sympathy for the refugees. With the backing of the heroic commander of the USS Edsall, Halsey Powell, and the help of the Greek commander of the Kilkis, they managed to evacuate more than 250,000 people from Smyrna in only seven days. With no Allied ships, they convinced the Greeks to lend merchant ships and then persuaded the Turks to allow them into the harbor under American escort, as long as they didn’t fly the Greek flag. Powell certainly fudged his orders by escorting the ships, and Jennings worked night and day to move the refugees to a safe location. The story, especially that of Jennings, crippled by tuberculosis and typhoid, is remarkable, and Ureneck delivers it with a wonderful style that grabs and holds the reader’s attention.

An inspiring illumination of a hero who deserves recognition.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-225988-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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