Military history unfortunately propelled by the author’s insistent imagery.




A journalist portrays World War II as a grand theatrical production.

Lande (The Life and Times of Homer Sincere, 2010, etc.), former director of TIME World News Service and executive producer for CBS and NBC, conceives the war as theater, complete with costumes (soldiers’ uniforms), sets (Nazi extravaganzas, for example), and “theatrical entrepreneurs, writer-directors who wrote, enacted, and implemented their own scripts.” These were “Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin.” “Governments,” writes the author, “used oratory and entertainment to establish a framework that would support their respective wartime finales both in the theater of warfare and the theater surrounding and supporting this war, to inspire the home front audience.” Drawing on standard histories of the war, Lande reprises a familiar sequence of events, but his persistent view of these events as theater trivializes their gravity. He characterizes Hitler as having a “dramatic orientation,” assembling a huge cast “to play in the theater of war,” and deems Germany’s invasion of the demilitarized Rhineland “an out of town tryout.” In praising Churchill’s oratorical skills, the author sees the “theater dark, the lighting effects of the theater were dim until the British lion roared, and now the British had a wartime leader for whom dramaturgical techniques came easily.” Britain’s need for civilian participation resulted, Lande writes, in “a ‘casting’ call” for players to do “what was necessary to effect the final outcome as scripted by their leader.” Of a soldier who died heroically, the author writes that he became “another member of a cast that never had a chance to take a final bow.” Lande offers a detailed look at “black propaganda”: disinformation that the Allies sent to demoralize Germans and persuade them “to intentionally deviate from Hitler’s script.” After Roosevelt’s death, Truman was “custodian of the final script”; Eisenhower followed his own “production plan,” and Patton played a “Hero General,” as if out of central casting.

Military history unfortunately propelled by the author’s insistent imagery.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1586-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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