Fast-paced and informative, this is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand World War II and some of the...

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THE TANGO WAR

THE STRUGGLE FOR THE HEARTS, MINDS AND RICHES OF LATIN AMERICA DURING WORLD WAR II

A fascinating narrative of the struggle for Latin America during World War II featuring untold stories of politics, propaganda, spycraft, and intrigue.

In her latest, journalist McConahay (Ricochet: Two Women War Reporters and a Friendship Under Fire, 2016, etc.) gives an account thick with detail and unexpected twists regarding America’s efforts to control the resources of Latin America. An army marches on its stomach, and a modern mechanized army requires oil, rubber, and steel as much as food. With Europe, Asia, and North Africa drawn into the conflict, the world turned to Latin America to power its war machine. As the author writes, “war once begun has few limits in time and space,” a point that her broad, exciting history bears out. Chronicling Mexico’s role in selling oil to an otherwise fuel-famished Nazi regime, the fight for rubber in Guatemala and Brazil, American kidnappings of Japanese residents in Peru, the Catholic Church’s assistance to the “ratlines” through which Nazi war criminals escaped to South America, and the “hydra-like Nazi system of intelligence and communications” that operated throughout the continent, McConahay displays scalpel-sharp precision with details and a nose for unintended consequences. Indeed, the dominant theme in the book might be American self-sabotage. Allied efforts in the region were consistently stymied by inexpert meddling in Latin American affairs, enforcing vast inequality and expropriation of wealth, and opposing democratic reforms. The debacle in Mexico, where the American oil industry’s boycott of its nationalized reserves drove the country into the arms of the Axis, is probably the most striking example. However, the repeated kidnappings of Japanese people living in Latin America to use in prisoner exchanges with Japan is what may stick in readers’ minds the strongest.

Fast-paced and informative, this is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand World War II and some of the forces that led to it.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09123-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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