MONTE CASSINO

THE HARDEST-FOUGHT BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II

An accomplished study of a battle that figures in all the standard WWII textbooks but is rarely given much more than a...

A careful reconstruction of the Allied campaign, throughout the winter of 1943–44, to break the Nazi hold on southern Italy.

Veterans of Okinawa and Stalingrad may not endorse the subtitle, but the campaign to take the hilltop fortress of Monte Cassino was supremely bloody; as the British comedian Spike Milligan wrote to his parents from the battlefront, “I’m writing this in a hole in the ground, it’s convenient, because if you get killed, they just fill the hole in.” British editor and writer Parker (The Battle of Britain, not reviewed) writes that the mile-high summit of Cassino commanded the only readily negotiable route to Rome, and invaders would have to pass within range of the German guns that crowned the Cassino Massif. Ideal ground for those who possessed it—as Parker notes, it was “considered one of the finest defensive positions in Europe”—Cassino also boasted a vast sixth-century monastery whose walls were 20 feet thick at the base. The Allies enjoyed tremendous material superiority; one German paratroop officer remembers seeing “an unbroken stream of Allied tanks and vehicles . . . flowing westward” across the Liri River valley and wondering how anyone could stand up to such odds. But for all the cannons and planes the Allies commanded, uprooting thousands of crack German troops from Cassino had to be accomplished one by one, hand to hand—since, as Parker notes, the Allied air assaults that destroyed the monastery “had merely created ruins in which the defender had the advantage.” The Allied ground attack was accomplished by a truly international force, with equal-opportunity slaughter; among Parker’s finest moments is his account of ill-fated Indian and Maori units chewed up by German machine-gun and mortar fire. The battle, Parker concludes, was disorganized, politicized, and needlessly bloody; had Gen. Mark Clark blocked the earlier German evacuation of Sicily, he suggests, there would have been no crack paratroops to defend Cassino at the start.

An accomplished study of a battle that figures in all the standard WWII textbooks but is rarely given much more than a mention.

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-50985-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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

Close Quickview