A prideful, patriotic and impassioned account.



Engaging insider history of the U.S. Army’s undercover special-ops unit known as “The Activity.”

Attention-grabbing profiles, interviews and case histories fortify this work by Smith (The Emperor’s Codes, 2001, etc.), a veteran of the British Army Intelligence Corps. Initially called “Intelligence Support Activity,” one of the most respected (and little-known) undercover branches of the U.S. military was launched after a “major embarrassment,” the CIA’s bungling of a 1980 effort to rescue American hostages in Tehran. An intelligence collective was obviously needed, and the Army recruited pragmatic Special Forces veteran Jerry King to assemble a task force of military experts who would specialize in information-gathering and the clandestine infiltration of enemy territory. After a few mismanaged organizational attempts and the 1981 terrorist kidnapping of NATO General James Dozier, The Activity was formed. The Dozier rescue mission was deemed a success, and King became enthusiastic about the group accepting increasingly complicated, treacherous missions. In doing so, The Activity, boasting upwards of 300 members stationed worldwide, garnered both sharp criticism and broad acclaim from government officials, at the same time acquiring adversaries who wanted nothing more than to chart the group’s demise. Operations spanned Central America, Beirut and, more recently, Afghanistan, ranging from an intricate counter-narcotics maneuver in Bogotá to the jewel in The Activity’s crown, the capture of Saddam Hussein. Because Pentagon officials denied requests for permission to speak to Smith, most of the author’s sources remain confidential. Unfazed by this opposition, he brazenly exposes a military force that continues to prove incredibly effective in the War on Terror and promises an increasingly powerful tool against future threats that place America’s freedoms in jeopardy.

A prideful, patriotic and impassioned account.

Pub Date: March 6, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-36272-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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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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