A riveting addition to the literature on scientific innovation during the Second World War.

BLIND BOMBING

HOW MICROWAVE RADAR BROUGHT THE ALLIES TO D-DAY AND VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II

An engineer hails a lesser-known technological breakthrough of the World War II era.

The United States’ weaponization of nuclear technology and England’s cracking of the Enigma code are often discussed in conversations about the roles of scientists and mathematicians in the Second World War. However, this book suggests that “one small piece of hardware” may have been “the single most important physical invention” that ended the war in Europe. The resonant cavity magnetron paved the way for microwave radar systems that gave Allies a distinct advantage over Nazi Germany. The difference between the radar used during the early years of the war and this new version, the book notes, “was akin to that between the musket and the rifle.” The author convincingly suggests that microwave radar’s abilities to detect U-boats and to give bombers the ability to “see” through overcast skies were essential prerequisites to the successful D-Day campaign. Indeed, the book notes that microwave-enabled bombing campaigns on Nazi factories and infrastructure essentially disabled Germany’s air force before a single Allied soldier stepped foot on the beaches of Normandy. Some academic historians may balk at the author’s overreliance on a handful of secondary sources for historical context, and cynics may question the book’s hagiographic tendencies. However, as a retired electronics engineer who helped design radar equipment used in air traffic control towers, Fine expertly breaks down the complex technology and deftly guides readers through myriad acronyms used by the military and government agencies. The book also tells a compelling story of how a network of “unlikely partners”—including politicians, businessmen, army generals, and university presidents—transformed what was previously a “hazy dream to a few scientists” into a deployable tool. Original interviews with those who made and used the tech, including project engineers and B-17 navigators, complement the narrative, as do ample photographs and illustrations.

A riveting addition to the literature on scientific innovation during the Second World War.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64-012220-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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