A worthy companion to Rick Atkinson’s outstanding In the Company of Soldiers (p. 115).

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BLACK KNIGHTS

ON THE BLOODY ROAD TO BAGHDAD

A frontline memoir by Daily Telegraph correspondent Poole, the sole UK journalist to be embedded with American forces in the Iraq campaign.

Being British bought Poole plenty of love, he recalls, and even if some of the troopers who served in the armored infantry unit called the Black Knights seemed to think his accent funny and his skills as a touch typist just short of magic, most appreciated the support that Tony Blair’s government was affording them. Says one tough sergeant, “It could feel lonely out in this desert if you Brits weren’t here with us.” The British soldiers he encounters during the invasion of Iraq take a different view, complaining that the fight is America’s and that British boys should not be dying in the desert to satisfy George Bush’s grudges. Many Americans Poole interviews agree—one tells him, “I have no beef with the Iraqis. This is Bush’s war. . . . It’s all for political reasons”—but most seem convinced not only of the righteousness of their cause, but also of the self-evident nature of the proposition that the world is America’s to rule. Whether pro or con, one surprise is to find that American grunts were comparing the war in Iraq to Vietnam the minute it started; Ted Kennedy is far from alone in making the analogy. One soldier worries—and this is in 2003—that the antiwar movement was rapidly growing: “What if this is like Vietnam,” he asks, “where we go back and they throw rocks at us?” Another, crossing into Iraq, says glumly, “I sure hope we haven’t just walked straight into a new Vietnam.” Such sentiments, it would seem, fly in the face of the brass’s efforts to uproot the “Vietnam syndrome,” but that news apparently hasn’t reached the dogfaces, ready to believe every rumor (that J.Lo. has been killed in a car wreck, that Jessica Lynch is being gang-raped by Republican Guards) and to kill everything that moves before them.

A worthy companion to Rick Atkinson’s outstanding In the Company of Soldiers (p. 115).

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-00-717438-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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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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