Carr not only examines the campaigns and career of Sherman; he also attacks the mindsets and assumptions that have continued...




William Tecumseh Sherman’s brutal March to the Sea was not the first military rampage against civilians—even in the United States—but it continues to attract attention and comments from military leaders.

Veteran journalist Carr (Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent, 2012, etc.) begins with Sherman’s biography, emphasizing his 1864-1865 southern campaign and equally harsh tactics during the Indian wars that followed. Although the book’s second half ostensibly discusses his legacy in America’s subsequent wars, it turns out to be a grim account of military hypocrisy in the service of mass slaughter. Sherman considered civilians essential to enemy war-making capacity. His troops mostly destroyed property, but this was not the case during the Philippine insurrection (1899-1902), during which soldiers murdered civilians en masse. Similar atrocities in Vietnam were dwarfed by the immense toll from indiscriminate bombing during World War II and the Korean War. Carr reminds readers that Sherman’s campaign produced minuscule deaths compared to the vicious Grant-Lee battles in Virginia. As America has grown intolerant of military casualties, leaders have eagerly adopted high-tech weapons (smart bombs, drones) whose operators work far from the enemy. These weapons turn out to kill a surprising number of bystanders, rendering America’s admirable, winning-hearts-and-minds anti-insurgency paradigm obsolete a mere decade after it was adopted. Sherman might have disapproved of the current tactics. When outraged contemporaries denounced Sherman’s march as a barbarous throwback, this “reflected a widespread assumption that warfare between ‘civilized nations’ had undergone a process of moral advancement in the nineteenth century.” In fact, the “principle of civilian immunity was firmly embedded in the West Point tradition to which Sherman belonged.”

Carr not only examines the campaigns and career of Sherman; he also attacks the mindsets and assumptions that have continued to allow America to rationalize its wars.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59558-955-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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...


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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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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