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

WASHINGTON’S WAR

FROM INDEPENDENCE TO IRAQ

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...

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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