During WW II, Jensen served as a cook in the bivouac of a potent tank battalion. His first book is a proud history of the unit and, not incidentally, a tribute to his friends at the front. The men of the 70th Tank Battalion fought from Tunis and Sicily to Normandy on D-Day. Then, through the hazardous Norman hedgerows to the glory of Paris on Liberation Day, from the Seigfried Line into the Battle of the Bulge, often advancing beyond their maps, they were an integral part of bloody, cosmic events. Jensen records the details, including the symbiotic kinship of the tankmen and the infantry. We learn the difference in handling a light tank and a medium one. He notes the functions of quartermaster and ordnance, field kitchen and graves registration. Official records, action reports, citations, and other historical sources are marshaled to record events in the life of the battalion (like the surrender of some 20,000 Germans to its A Company, consisting of just 134 men). But the personal journals and letters and many interviews with veterans of the 70th are the most powerful evidence of military prowess coupled with basic humanity. Jensen's debriefing is almost pedestrian, merging minor events and high drama. Yet it is a matter-of-fact record of unsurpassed comradeship and courage. By the last page, these tales of bravery become a powerful evocation of the world's last good war. For this military history, a feeling for the difference between a squad and a division or a carbine and a howitzer might be helpful but is certainly not required. It's a simple text of a harrowing time when men fought, not for a flag, but for their brothers-in-arms and their honor and then went—those who survived- -home again. (maps and photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-89141-610-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Presidio/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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