A brief but thoughtful essay outlining the terrible misapprehensions that led to escalating tensions between the US and the Soviet Union from the close of WW I to the end of the Korean conflict. Although anti-Bolshevik feelings ran high even at the time of the Russian Revolution, fear of the USSR didn't dominate American foreign policy until after WW II. Drawing on materials newly available from Soviet, East European, and Chinese archives, Leffler (winner of the 1993 Bancroft Prize for A Preponderance of Power) deftly traces the history of US-Soviet relations in prÇcis, from the Bolsheviks' rise to power through the uneasy truce in Korea. Begining as an ideological clash, the tension between the two nations only gradually became a power struggle as well. Indeed, it was only when the USSR became a player on the same global scale as the US (albeit considerably weaker in key strategic areas after the pounding it took during WW II) that the Soviets were perceived as an active threat abroad. On the other hand, seen through the distorting mirror of obsessive anti-Communism, domestic American radicals were regarded as a danger almost from the first murmur of the word ``Bolshevik'' in the popular press, and it was the specter of homegrown subversion rather than foreign invasion that haunted American policies for a long time. Leffler retells this often familiar material methodically, using the new documentation to reveal Stalin as hesitant and tentative in foreign policy, primarily concerned with erecting a security buffer around Russia rather than building an evil empire. The portrait that emerges is of two superpowers-in-formation engaged in a grim dialogue of the deaf, with terrible consequences for humanity. Although much of the ground covered is well trod, this is an admirably complete introduction to the history of the Cold War.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8090-8791-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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