The record of a Marine battalion in Vietnam, 1964-69, by a former infantry captain. Lehrack's technique is to record various NCOs, privates, and line officers, then to distill their accounts and give them a chronology. He sets this worm's-eye view in wider context; for instance, he contrasts the notions of General Westmoreland with those of various Marine commanders. The Marines believed in building schools and distributing food; the Army thought those were civilian matters. But, in general, this account has much the flavor of other Vietnam reminiscences: pride of service, bitterness over the confusion of purpose, and, in many cases, the troubles that individual solders had readjusting to civilian life. Wallace Terry's oral history of black soldiers, Bloods (1984), was similar, except that Lehrack's work is largely apolitical and more focused. Several of the soldiers won Medals of Honor, and their accounts are here, as well as a distinctive rendering of the first Battle of Khe Sanh. We hear from point men, corpsmen, gunnery sergeants; there's gentle testimony from a chaplain who was spat on when he returned to the US. Representative here might be Sergeant Kenneth Ransbottom, who extended his tours and served for a total of 27 months. His rendering of the relocation of a Vietnamese village, the terror of the civilians, and the panicky, accidental violence that ensued is heartbreaking—a testament both to his own eloquence and to Lehrack's skill in capturing it. A disciplined, lucid view of ordinary soldiers in a bewildering and demoralizing war.

Pub Date: May 25, 1992

ISBN: 0-7006-0533-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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