Emphasizes why it is necessary to continue to examine and amend a complex story whose many facets will take much more...




World War II study that seeks to challenge traditional and, Davies (Rising ’44: The Battle of Warsaw, 2004, etc.) argues, glaringly inaccurate narratives of the event.

This alternative history not only focuses on what has been wrongly said about the war, but also on what has not been said and why. Common myths about the war that have heretofore been regarded as fact—such as what the largest concentration camp in Europe was—are convincingly dispelled. Davies believes it is dangerous to view the Western Powers as fair-minded and democratic, when they naively stood by while victims of Stalin's tyrannical regime could “be counted not in hundreds or thousands, or even millions, but in tens of millions.” In seeking to explain how such atrocities could be allowed to occur, Davies moves into a discussion of morality during the war and posits the answers to some uncomfortable questions. Why has the extent of the Soviet Union's devastating involvement in the conflict previously been understated or even rationalized by the West? Why was the expulsion of ethnic Germans from certain former German provinces virtually ignored after the war? In passages on warfare, politics, soldiers and civilians, Davies provides a detailed and personal history of the conflict. In discussing the fate of the soldiers, and the improvement in military psychiatry, he uses an unusual example—British army veteran and popular comic Spike Milligan—to prove his point. It is to the author’s credit that he not only deconstructs the foundations of World War II history, but also explains how these misconceptions were built in the first place, giving a detailed account of the ways in which the war has been portrayed in film, art and literature, and how this has subsequently affected public perception.

Emphasizes why it is necessary to continue to examine and amend a complex story whose many facets will take much more searching to be told.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-01832-1

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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