Entertaining, informative and refreshingly devoid of partisan advocacy, Burleigh offers a persuasive explanation of how...




Acclaimed historian Burleigh (Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II, 2012, etc.) returns with a feisty review of two decades of decolonialization.

This was "a crucial transitional era in which power tangibly passed from European capitals to the 'World Capital on the Potomac.’ ” The former colonial powers, ruined by the war, could no longer afford the expenses of empire when increasingly assertive nationalism in the colonies required additional military spending, and the Americans did not want these costs to impede the economic redevelopment of Europe. The Europeans' aim was to buy time to effect a transition of their colonies to a nominal independence that would still allow them to control local economies and resources. They sought American aid for their efforts to repress nationalist movements by fostering a fear that the movements were infiltrated by communists eager to seize power upon independence; sometimes this was the case. As the author observes, many of the issues faced during this period, from effective military responses to insurgencies, remain newsworthy today. With flair and panache, Burleigh surveys a dozen or so of the period's “small wars,” including conflicts in Palestine, Malaya, the Philippines, Algeria and Kenya, and shows how the interplay of waning colonialism and the Cold War led to the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War. The author's coverage is serious and thorough, but he also has an eye for the striking detail—e.g., "When naked husbands and wives took the [Mau Mau] oath, they were bound together by the intestines of goats." Along the way, the author delights in deftly skewering hypocrisy, incompetence and delusional thinking on the parts of all participants in this saga.

Entertaining, informative and refreshingly devoid of partisan advocacy, Burleigh offers a persuasive explanation of how America assumed the mantle of policeman of the developing world.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-02545-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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