A definitive account of complex political maneuvering that accomplished little.

UNCONDITIONAL

THE JAPANESE SURRENDER IN WORLD WAR II

The tortuous history behind America’s decision to insist on Japan’s unconditional surrender.

In this tightly focused narrative, history professor Gallicchio writes that when Franklin Roosevelt announced in 1943 that the war would end when Germany and Japan surrendered unconditionally, few objected. It became a controversy in 1945 when Japan’s defeat seemed inevitable to everyone except Japanese leaders, who maintained that all their countrymen would die before surrendering. Two administration camps existed. Secretary of War Henry Stimson led those convinced that Japanese leaders were more likely to surrender if assured that the emperor would keep his throne. Dean Acheson, who would become secretary of state in 1949, led those who argued that this would prolong the war by convincing the enemy that America was weakening. Harry Truman listened but did nothing, and the Navy was lukewarm to any assurance. Having annihilated enemy naval and air defenses, Navy leaders were certain that a blockade would starve Japan into submission. Army leaders, led by Gen. George Marshall, argued that this would take years and that war-weary Americans would lose heart. In any case, public opinion supported unconditional surrender. The Army argued for an invasion of the home island, an immense project. In the end, a second atomic bomb and the Soviet invasion persuaded Japan to give in. Its offer to surrender included a clause protecting the emperor, which the U.S. rejected, returning a softened version that Japanese leaders, after heated debate, accepted. But as the author points out, the controversy persisted. During the war and until the 1960s, advocates of modifying unconditional surrender were conservatives who proclaimed this would save American lives while liberals protested that “the real aim of the ‘emperor worshippers’…was to maintain Japan as a bulwark against Russia and revolution.” After the ’60s, matters reversed when liberal “revisionist” histories claimed that Japan was on the verge of surrendering and that Truman brushed off the evidence and insisted on dropping the bombs to intimidate Russia.

A definitive account of complex political maneuvering that accomplished little.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-009110-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

WILLIE NELSON'S LETTERS TO AMERICA

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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