For WWII neophytes.

The author of Taking Paris returns with a look at how World War II progressed in Europe after the D-Day landings.

Unquestionably, the fight for the Nazi capital was an epic confrontation and a crucial element of the ending of the war. Yet popular historian Dugard, co-author of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series, examines that part of the story only glancingly, offering a brief, desultory section near the end. Instead, the author focuses on the Allied push across Western Europe, starting with D-Day and including the disastrous Operation Market Garden and the Ardennes Offensive. All of these events, significant as they are, have been covered better before, whether as official history, memoir, or analytical commentary. Dugard reiterates the antagonism between Montgomery and Patton, a conflict that ran so deep it almost derailed the entire Allied effort. But this is also well-traveled territory. Dugard seeks to inject new material via colorful figures like journalist Martha Gellhorn, but her wartime adventures have already been recounted extensively—not least by her. The author also notes that there was an Allied plan to beat the Russians to Berlin with an airborne troop drop, although it never came to fruition. This is hardly a secret: There is a reference to it in Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, among other works. One waits for Dugard to spring a surprise, in the form of new documents or a fresh perspective, but it never comes. He barely mentions the Russian army that actually took Berlin, and the eventual move by American and British forces into the western part of the city, the real start of the Cold War, receives no coverage. The postwar fate of Berlin was settled largely at the Yalta Conference, not by Patton or Montgomery. Anyone interested in more rigorous histories of this period have plenty of other options, including those of Antony Beevor, Peter Caddick-Adams, and Rick Atkinson.

For WWII neophytes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18742-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022


The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist (1900–45) collected his work from WWII in two bestselling volumes, this second published in 1944, a year before Pyle was killed by a sniper’s bullet on Okinawa. In his fine introduction to this new edition, G. Kurt Piehler (History/Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville) celebrates Pyle’s “dense, descriptive style” and his unusual feel for the quotidian GI experience—a personal and human side to war left out of reporting on generals and their strategies. Though Piehler’s reminder about wartime censorship seems beside the point, his biographical context—Pyle was escaping a troubled marriage—is valuable. Kirkus, at the time, noted the hoopla over Pyle (Pulitzer, hugely popular syndicated column, BOMC hype) and decided it was all worth it: “the book doesn’t let the reader down.” Pyle, of course, captures “the human qualities” of men in combat, but he also provides “an extraordinary sense of the scope of the European war fronts, the variety of services involved, the men and their officers.” Despite Piehler’s current argument that Pyle ignored much of the war (particularly the seamier stuff), Kirkus in 1944 marveled at how much he was able to cover. Back then, we thought, “here’s a book that needs no selling.” Nowadays, a firm push might be needed to renew interest in this classic of modern journalism.

Pub Date: April 26, 2001

ISBN: 0-8032-8768-2

Page Count: 513

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001



A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

A harrowing expedition to Antarctica, recounted by Departures senior features editor Sancton, who has reported from every continent on the planet.

On Aug. 16, 1897, the steam whaler Belgica set off from Belgium with young  Adrien de Gerlache as commandant. Thus begins Sancton’s riveting history of exploration, ingenuity, and survival. The commandant’s inexperienced, often unruly crew, half non-Belgian, included scientists, a rookie engineer, and first mate Roald Amundsen, who would later become a celebrated polar explorer. After loading a half ton of explosive tonite, the ship set sail with 23 crew members and two cats. In Rio de Janeiro, they were joined by Dr. Frederick Cook, a young, shameless huckster who had accompanied Robert Peary as a surgeon and ethnologist on an expedition to northern Greenland. In Punta Arenas, four seamen were removed for insubordination, and rats snuck onboard. In Tierra del Fuego, the ship ran aground for a while. Sancton evokes a calm anxiety as he chronicles the ship’s journey south. On Jan. 19, 1898, near the South Shetland Islands, the crew spotted the first icebergs. Rough waves swept someone overboard. Days later, they saw Antarctica in the distance. Glory was “finally within reach.” The author describes the discovery and naming of new lands and the work of the scientists gathering specimens. The ship continued through a perilous, ice-littered sea, as the commandant was anxious to reach a record-setting latitude. On March 6, the Belgica became icebound. The crew did everything they could to prepare for a dark, below-freezing winter, but they were wracked with despair, suffering headaches, insomnia, dizziness, and later, madness—all vividly capture by Sancton. The sun returned on July 22, and by March 1899, they were able to escape the ice. With a cast of intriguing characters and drama galore, this history reads like fiction and will thrill fans of Endurance and In the Kingdom of Ice.

A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984824-33-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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