A straightforward, evenhanded account of the nine-year slog that began as a “war of choice” and became “a war of necessity.”



A solid chronicle of the Iraq War, emphasizing military maneuvers and Iraqi participation at all levels.

Co-authors of previous military histories (Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, 2006, etc.), chief military correspondent Gordon and former Marine Corps lieutenant general Trainor fashion a meticulous record of the nine years of conflict between the “inside-out” versus “outside-in” strategies of the U.S. government in dealing with Iraqi intransigence and conversion to democracy. The authors build a deliberate, chronological construction of events. From 2003, when President George W. Bush’s administration embraced the invasion of Iraq as part of a multipronged “freedom agenda,” to 2011, when President Barack Obama resolved to extricate the U.S. from the unpopular military exigencies, the government grappled with balancing the urgency for stability by military means and the need to bolster the Iraqis’ own system of government and security. Despite the wealth of resources, materiel and advisers injected into the invasion effort, the provisional government that Jerry Bremer III put in place was not functioning within a few weeks and an insurgency was gaining hold, often killing American troops. The authors take great pains to delineate the makeup of the Iraqi government in the prickly transition to sovereignty. For generals from Casey to Petraeus, one fixer to the next, “the specter of Vietnam had haunted the American military for so long that it was hard to imagine that anything good might have come out of the war.” The authors, with their combined military experience, try to find those salvaging glimmers.

A straightforward, evenhanded account of the nine-year slog that began as a “war of choice” and became “a war of necessity.”

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-37722-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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