THE BATTLE FOR THE FALKLANDS

For a "little" war, the Falklands struggle has turned out some good books (q.v., Sunday Times Insight Team, War in the Falklands), but this one will be hard to top. Hastings (Bomber Command, Das Reich), covered the war for the London Standard and then interviewed returnees; Jenkins, political editor of The Economist, covered the war's political beat and the prior diplomatic-ups-and-downs. Together, they're a strong combination. Like most others, they're convinced that this was a war that shouldn't have happened: the Falklanders should have accepted the "lease-back" agreement; the Argentines acted only because they didn't think the British would send their fleet; the British never believed the Argentines would actually invade the islands. When it become clear that they might, Hastings and Jenkins blame Prime Minister Thatcher for not issuing an ultimatum. But once the Argentine invasion occurred, they credit her with her single-mindedness—only British determination made the operation a success. The logistics were immense, and it's clear that the British sent their fleet out before they were sure of what they were doing. Many things broke right for them, though. Having grossly underestimated Argentine air strength, they launched their assault at San Carlos without having achieved air superiority; luckily, bad weather kept the Argentine planes away—but when the weather cleared the day after the landing, the Argentine air force took its toll on the Royal Navy. The inadequacy of British ship design became all too clear, but not, the authors say, because of the infamous aluminum superstructures. They place most of the blame on the concentration of vital functions in a single area of the ships, and on inadequate defense against air attack. (As one senior captain put it, "We have moved too quickly and too completely into the missile age.") But the navy benefited from Argentine fear of missile defenses anyway, since they failed to set their bombs properly for low-level flying (adopted to avoid the missiles)—as a result, many went unexploded. (Manuals-of-instruction from the bombs' American manufacturers were unavailable because of American restrictions.) Still, the toil taken by the Royal Navy after the landing is a glimpse of the disaster that could have befallen the British if the weather had cleared earlier. The sea battle of San Carlos was a close call, it's clear from this report. Meanwhile, reports of sunken ships created political panic in Britain, where demands were forwarded for a quick strike on land. Royal Marine Brigadier Thompson, defended for his caution, is the hero here. The hastily mounted attack on Goose Green succeeded—against overwhelming numbers—only because of the quality of the British soldiers. Again, luck had its part: the Marines' NATO responsibility is for northern Norway, so they were well-trained for conditions on the Falklands. The depiction of the land battles is vivid but spare, and highly effective. The uncertainty of war, the reality that is never quite what was expected, is beautifully portrayed.

Pub Date: June 27, 1983

ISBN: 0393301982

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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