This treatment of an important topic is tainted by excesses of preconception and ideology.

STALIN'S SECRET AGENTS

THE SUBVERSION OF ROOSEVELT'S GOVERNMENT

Two veteran Cold War historians allege that pro-Soviet American government officials and private citizens labored during and after World War II to aid communism around the globe.

Former Indianapolis News editor commentator Evans (Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, 2007, etc.) and former Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation head Romerstein (co-author: The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors, 2000, etc.) believe that Stalin manipulated Franklin Roosevelt and, to a lesser extent, Winston Churchill, during World War II, in exchange for the Russians using their military might against Nazi Germany. Stalin and his aides gained hegemony in postwar Europe, write the authors, with the help of traitors within both the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Evans and Romerstein discuss the roles of Alger Hiss and Armand Hammer, and they cite an impressive array of sources in both English and Russian. However, as has been their practice for decades, the authors equate presence at an event—e.g., Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at Yalta—with the covert wielding of tremendous influence. That Hiss, Hammer and others accused of treason by Evans and Romerstein could have achieved the results for which they are blamed falls into the realm of speculation, no matter the breadth of research. Their speculation is interesting, and some may be true, but their seeming inability to distinguish between factual evidence and assumption weakens the book. When the authors stray from Soviet influence within the United States and shift the focus to the rise of communism in China around the same time, their speculation about the allegedly traitorous activity of named individuals feels even shakier.

This treatment of an important topic is tainted by excesses of preconception and ideology.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-4768-9

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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