Next book

ALONE

BRITAIN, CHURCHILL, AND DUNKIRK: DEFEAT INTO VICTORY

An excellent revisitation of a critically important set of battles that, once a byword for courage, have faded in memory.

A swiftly paced, illuminating account of events at the opening of World War II in Europe, recounting “a military defeat with a happy ending.”

Revived in part thanks to Christopher Nolan’s 2017 film Dunkirk, the history of the British Expeditionary Force is compelling even in its barest bones. Korda (Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, 2014, etc.), noted as both a historian and publisher, brings a personal touch to the story with that of his own family’s flight from Europe a step or two ahead of the advancing Nazis. So it was with the BEF, caught in France at the beginning of the German blitzkrieg. They fought valiantly as they retreated toward the coast, then were evacuated, famously, by a flotilla of both military and civilian boats that crossed the Channel under extreme danger, attacked by Stuka bombers and heavy artillery all the while. As the author observes, these unfolding events occasioned the first sustained contact between the French and British commands, to uneasy results. Some of the French commanders were highly effective, others not, while of the ordinary French troops, as one British veteran recounted, “their zest and delight in shooting Germans was most entertaining.” Even so, Winston Churchill found it necessary to deny the French access to the Royal Air Force, since, the British leader reasoned, the French army might well fold, as it did, and leave the British to fight the war alone. To craft this narrative, full of set pieces both political and military, Korda has scoured the archives, citing, for instance, the journals of “that rarest of observers, a well-educated public school Oxonian serving in the ranks” and looking deeply into all kinds of records. The author has a fine eye for the telling detail, too, such as the fact that British trucks captured at Dunkirk turned up among the German military train during the invasion of Russia in the following months.

An excellent revisitation of a critically important set of battles that, once a byword for courage, have faded in memory.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63149-132-0

Page Count: 564

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Next book

INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Next book

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview