RELUCTANT WARRIOR

A TRUE STORY OF DUTY AND HEROISM IN VIETNAM

A dialogue-heavy, techno-talk-filled war memoir by a former Marine lieutenant who led reconnaissance missions in Vietnam in 1970. Hodgins joined the US Marine Corps in 1964. After five years as an enlisted man, he became an officer in 1969, at the height of the American war in Vietnam. Later that year, Hodgins went to Vietnam, where he served as an infantry platoon leader. He then passed up a safe job in the rear and volunteered to become a reconnaissance platoon leader in northern Vietnam. Hodgins's book concentrates on the three-plus months he spent leading dangerous, tension-filled patrols behind enemy lines—a story he tells as if it happened yesterday. The narrative is filled with minute-by- minute reconstructions of what the author experienced, from the mundane to the extraordinary. Possessing something akin to total recall of events that took place 26 years ago, Hodgins spells out in great detail the meals he ate, the beverages he consumed, the conversations he had with his fellow officers and the enlisted men who served under him, the types of weapons he and his men carried, and the weather and terrain conditions they encountered—among myriad other details. Hodgins ``freshened'' his memory of those long-ago events, he says, by studying official Marine Corps documents, ``historical publications,'' letters and diaries written by his former comrades, and ``by personal interviews with some of those men.'' The result is a decently written wartime journal that in some parts reads like a novel. Hodgins tells his tale chronologically, sticking to facts and offering little reflection on the sometimes momentous events he took part in. This is occasionally jarring, as in the case where he describes shooting a wounded, unarmed enemy soldier. For Marine Corps action aficionados only. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-449-91059-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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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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