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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?