Feel-good histories of World War II have fallen out of fashion, but Britain’s sole stand against Hitler remains inspiring....

LAST HOPE ISLAND

BRITAIN, OCCUPIED EUROPE, AND THE BROTHERHOOD THAT HELPED TURN THE TIDE OF WAR

A “rich, intensely human story” of European cooperation during World War II.

Early on during the war, government officials and many citizens of a host of conquered European nations fled to Britain. Bestselling historian Olson (Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, 2013, etc.) writes a vivid history of the war through the eyes of the exiles and compatriots left behind. She reveals inspiring tales of heroism, suffering, and sacrifice without ignoring too many incidents of betrayal, missed opportunities, and incompetence. First to arrive were the Poles and Czechs. That Britain had betrayed Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938 and remained passive while the Wehrmacht conquered Poland in 1939 did not lessen their commitment. Their military units fought with the Allies, and their prewar intelligence skills were far superior. The brilliant Bletchley Park decoders could not have succeeded without the earlier innovations of Polish codebreakers. In 1940, leaders from conquered Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Holland formed exile governments. Though no significant French political figures came to Britain, Winston Churchill encouraged the obscure brigadier general Charles de Gaulle. Olson reminds readers that, until late 1942, none of this activity greatly inconvenienced Hitler or his plans. Britain’s victory (really a draw) in the Battle of Britain was followed by a numbing series of blunders and defeats. Joining the resistance was suicidal; even military buffs will recoil at the murderous ineptitude of early British secret operations. By 1943, however, the Allies had gotten their act together. Their armies were advancing, and the resistance was functioning efficiently.

Feel-good histories of World War II have fallen out of fashion, but Britain’s sole stand against Hitler remains inspiring. Despite the title, the occupied nations that she sheltered did not “turn the tide,” but Olson delivers an engrossing, sometimes-disturbing account of their energetic efforts.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9735-4

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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...

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

Did you like this book?

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more