THE AFGHAN SYNDROME

THE SOVIET UNION'S VIETNAM

An ambitious attempt to take stock of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, by Russian military experts with access to previously unpublished archival material. Sarin (a serving major general who's a top editor of Red Star, the daily newspaper of the erstwhile USSR's armed forces) and Dvoretsky (a retired-colonel-turned-journalist) make a serious effort to come to grips with the sociopolitical impact of a dirty, undeclared war against the people of an ostensibly friendly neighbor that dragged on from late 1979 until early 1989. The authors offer a succinct rundown on Afghanistan's turbulent history; blunt analyses of the Kremlin's postinvasion blundering; orders of battle on both sides (complete with vivid takes on the mortal perils endured by the poorly trained young conscripts Moscow sent to fight rebel tribesman in a harsh land); poignant accounts of the hostility with which returning combat vets were greeted on the home front; and a kaleidoscopic overview of Afghanistan's lingering legacy throughout the former USSR. The authors conclude that, while the restructuring of Soviet society and values might have occurred had there been no enervating conflict, ``the Afghan tragedy made perestroika inevitable.'' They also argue that the costly, bloody struggle produced no winners: While the force of Soviet arms prevented the mujahidin from overthrowing the puppet regime in Kabul, military might proved unequal to the task of quelling or controlling a grass-roots revolt that was covertly aided by the US. At every opportunity in their heartfelt tract (the translation of which is serviceable at best), Sarin and Dvoretsky seize on dour determinations of this sort to remind their countrymen and the world that Afghanistan was a game not worth the candle. A lest-we-forget reckoning Ö la Russe. (The earnest text has 48 b&w photos—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-89141-420-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Presidio/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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