In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners.

ZERO NIGHT

THE UNTOLD STORY OF WORLD WAR TWO'S GREATEST ESCAPE

Military historian Felton (China Station: The British Military in the Middle Kingdom, 2013, etc.) delivers a page-turner about one particularly daring escape from a Nazi POW camp during World War II.

The men who populated the “vast enclosure” of Oflag VI-B in Warburg had mostly been captured in actions at Dunkirk, Crete, and northern France. There were nearly 3,000 prisoners, all officers except for 400 “other ranks.” What makes this story particularly absorbing is the author’s use of diaries and interviews to re-create dialogue. These extraordinary men were the most determined escape artists in captivity, and Oflag VI-B was especially built in 1941 to contain them. Their ingenuity, creativity, resourcefulness, and daring would make for great fiction—but it’s all true. At the beginning of the plot, an “X” committee controlled how many tunnels were being dug. The perimeter of the camp was guarded by two parallel fences 12 feet high, with a wire-filled void between to deter climbing. The group’s greatest escape attempt was the brainchild of Maj. Tom Stallard, who proposed to take hundreds of men out in one fell swoop. His “ladder,” based on medieval siege engines, would reach the top of the fence, and a bridge would span the gap. Those involved set to work, creating rope from the twine binding Red Cross boxes and stealing wood and nails from camp structures. They even concealed the ladder as shelving in the music hut. The greatest contribution came when Capt. Kenneth Searle noticed a major unfused spur line leading to the cobbler’s hut, an oversight that would enable him to short out perimeter lights to enable the escape. The author grippingly tracks the evaders’ trek to freedom, an event that would warrant a book in itself. Even the epilogue will bring a smile.

In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-07374-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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