A useful study of the war in the desert, though meant for readers with some appreciation of strategy, logistics, and tactics.




A wide-ranging, technical analysis of the bitter campaign, throughout the second half of 1942, for dominion of Egypt.

Barr (Defense Studies/Kings College London) examines the North African theater in the context of the larger war, and in particular what was happening on the near periphery: the Nazi airborne assault on the island of Crete, naval actions in the Mediterranean, ground combat in Ethiopia and an uprising in Iraq through which “Britain came dangerously close to losing its control of the Middle Eastern oil supplies.” Charged with relieving the besieged port of Tobruk, much of the British Eighth Army found itself penned up west of the city. Even though Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps had fewer soldiers and a third fewer tanks, it threw the defenders back to the Egyptian frontier in a disorganized retreat that caused an American military attaché to observe that the Eighth’s “tactical conceptions were always wrong . . . its reactions to the lightning changes of the battlefield were always slow.” The destruction would have been worse had the German ground forces not outrun their air support. Even so, centered on the little rail stop of El Alamein, the Eighth rebuilt its command, removing many staff officers and instituting the brigade rather than the division as the main unit of combat and movement. Though some officers were not eager to hurry back into combat with Rommel, Winston Churchill was eager to have a British victory before American forces landed in Morocco in Operation Torch, accelerating the schedule for a major offensive led by Bernard Montgomery. Surprising some observers, and certainly surprising Rommel, the Eighth rose to the occasion very capably indeed. Barr closes by concluding that in the Alamein campaign the force “was granted the breathing space it needed to assimilate lessons that transformed it from a clumsy and inept fighting formation into an effective and battle-winning army.”

A useful study of the war in the desert, though meant for readers with some appreciation of strategy, logistics, and tactics.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 1-58567-655-1

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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