A luminous book of sports history that explores a forgotten corner of the history of the Third Reich as well.



Auto racing takes on the von Clausewitz–ian guise of war by other means.

Early on in his reign, Hitler decided that it would be a key point of national pride to win the Grand Prix, with the Nazi propaganda machine obliging by developing the slogan, “a Mercedes-Benz victory is a German victory.” Hitler’s regime cultivated two drivers in particular, Bernd Rosemeyer and Rudi Caracciola, showering them with favors. France would have none of it, fielding a car, the Delahaye 145, that had an unlikely source, for the small firm that built it specialized in heavy trucks rather than fast cars. It had an unlikely patron, too: an American woman who loved to race and who selected as her driver a young man, René Dreyfus, who had been excluded from many races “because of his Jewish heritage.” When he was allowed to race, he soared. Bascomb (The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War, 2018, etc.) recounts an early race in which Dreyfus piloted a fresh-from-the-factory Maserati, his pit crew none other than the car’s namesake. Those early cars were dangerous: In a race from Paris to Madrid, more than a dozen drivers and onlookers were killed, and “there were too many injured to determine a casualty count with any accuracy.” Bascomb writes vigorously of the race at the heart of the book, with heart-pounding set pieces: “In the twelfth lap, Rudi crept up to René’s side, and the two almost locked together as they zigzagged around the course, neck and neck, neither giving way to the other.” René won, and Hitler was furious. René, now in the army, was sent to the Indy 500 to represent France in 1940 but was stranded in America when Germany invaded his homeland. One of the first acts of the invaders was to sweep up every bit of archival material related to his victory, hoping to rewrite the past.

A luminous book of sports history that explores a forgotten corner of the history of the Third Reich as well.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-48987-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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