Engrossing analysis of Vietnam-era diplomacy, naval history, and Cold War politics—embedded with fascinating parallels...



A detailed history and analysis of the U.S.S. Pueblo’s capture by North Korean gunships in January 1968 and the American government’s chaotic attempts to recover its crew.

President Bush’s recent declaration that North Korea is a key member of an “axis of evil” establishes this study as both timely and compelling. Lerner (History/Ohio State Univ.) argues that the Johnson administration’s view of North Korea as a mere satellite of the Soviet empire was a dramatic miscalculation. He clearly connects the design and outfitting of the Pueblo to an American-Soviet paradigm that tolerated electronic eavesdropping in international waters. That assumption, Lerner asserts, failed to account for North Korean leader Kim Il Sung’s nationalistic determination to remain as independent as possible from both Soviet and Chinese domination. This serious shortsightedness in American policy resulted in a confrontation: the North Korean navy crippled the Pueblo with automatic-weapons fire, killing one sailor and taking Commander Lloyd Bucher and his crew prisoners. Lerner details how growing public pressure to open up a new Asian conflict over the release of the crew caused Johnson to waver between hawkish bluster and timid placating of the North Korean government. While the administration stumbled towards a resolution with negotiators, he argues, the American sailors endured more than 300 days of systematic torture and abuse during which their captors coerced them into confessing to spying and other crimes against the North Korean people. Upon his repatriation to the US, the Navy pinned the blame for the incident on Commander Bucher, transforming him, according to Lerner, into a symbol of American Cold War blindness.

Engrossing analysis of Vietnam-era diplomacy, naval history, and Cold War politics—embedded with fascinating parallels between the events of 1968 and today’s crisis over terrorism. (21 photos, 1 map)

Pub Date: May 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-7006-1171-1

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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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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