Beautifully written, spectacularly researched account of the almost end of the Great War by the author of 1915: The Death of Innocence (1995). Macdonald, who has written six other books on aspects of WWI, weaves together the forgotten voices of the war to create a comprehensive picture that offers a perspective unlike the ones provided by such contemporary historians as John Keegan or Niall Ferguson, both of whom focus on the larger activities and implications of the war. Macdonald uses the official history only as background to the accounts of the enlisted men, and often their stories run counter to the official record. To the Last Man concentrates on the massive German offensive of March 1918, an attempt to turn the tide of the war. Freed up from hostilities on the Eastern Front by a Russia that was wracked by revolution and threatened in France by a soon-to-arrive American army, the Germans launched what was to be their last effort to break the stalemate in their favor with a massive attack on France. Throughout the narrative the oral testimonies of the officers and soldiers punctuate MacDonald’s clear recounting of the history and present haunting memories of “the war to end all wars——tales such as the memory of a British brigadier general walking through a portion of the battlefield where his son died and questioning “how it was possible that any troops could attack such a position in broad daylight on a lovely July morning.” The ultimate account of the end of the Great War and a poignant reminder that the best military history doesn’t forget the soldiers who fought and those who died. (16 pages photos, not seen; 17 maps)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7867-0663-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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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

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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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