A sharp, efficient discussion likely to interest military historians as well as general readers.




The former commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia examines two wars more than 200 years apart to demonstrate how a small group of determined insurgents can defeat a superpower.

Recently, political commentators have likened the Iraq War to America’s previous misadventure in Vietnam or even to the ancient Athenian campaign in Sicily. Rose (Fighting for Peace: Bosnia, 1994, 1998), however, says that it’s more akin to Great Britain’s misbegotten attempt to forcibly quash the rebellion of her 13 North American colonies in 1776. His admittedly imperfect analogy—he concedes that “enlightened political views” distinguished the American rebels from the extremists of today—yields a number of striking similarities, especially when the author focuses on military tactics and strategy. Rose explains how George Washington, confronting the 18th century’s most powerful army, learned never to fight on too many fronts simultaneously, to send ill-equipped troops against superior forces or to accept a set-piece battle. Today’s Iraqi insurgents, he argues, have learned these lessons well, as each day’s headlines about suicide bombers or improvised explosive devices demonstrate. Rose further explains how Britain, from the outset failing to understand the nature of its enemy, never deployed sufficient troops to subdue the vast American continent. Moreover, a succession of generals (Howe, Burgoyne, Clinton, Cornwallis) failed to efficiently employ the troops available. Unable to provide the security necessary to pacify the populace, the British army found itself isolated from the people, cut off from crucial intelligence and vulnerable to the guerrilla tactics of the patriots. Though Rose admits that events may overtake his analysis—the word “surge” doesn’t appear till the book’s three-quarter mark, and the name “Petraeus” only once—he predicts that America will be forced to withdraw from Iraq as Britain did from America, recognizing that its objectives can no longer be achieved and that the war’s ghastly cost threatens its global power position.

A sharp, efficient discussion likely to interest military historians as well as general readers.

Pub Date: April 24, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-933648-77-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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