A winner: the stories are fascinating, the pages nearly turn themselves, and La Rochefoucauld is a true hero.

THE SABOTEUR

THE ARISTOCRAT WHO BECAME FRANCE'S MOST DARING ANTI-NAZI COMMANDO

The page-turning tale of a World War II hero who would fit comfortably into any good spy thriller.

Robert de La Rochefoucauld (1923-2012), the subject of this thrilling debut biography by ESPN The Magazine deputy editor Kix, was a descendent of one of the most legendary families in European history. The family traced their beginnings to 900 C.E. and included a duke in Louis XVI’s court as well as two brothers martyred in the Reign of Terror. Another, a friend of Benjamin Franklin’s, fought to end slavery. Serving the nation was in La Rochefoucauld’s blood; his father was awarded the Legion of Honor, and the war sent Robert out to battle as well. He was 17 when German bombers descended on his home northeast of Paris. It wasn’t the first time; the estate was captured and recaptured more than a dozen times during World War I, requiring complete rebuilding. As France fell to Germany, La Rochefoucauld was glued to the wireless broadcasts of Charles de Gaulle. Determined to join him, he left home. His adventures began almost immediately, as he was trying to get to Spain and then to England, which required trusting strangers and connecting with résistants. In London, he was convinced to join a new British organization, the Special Operations Executive, a highly secretive group that was formed to train and equip foreign nationals in sabotage and guerrilla warfare. La Rochefoucaul went through the rigorous training in Southampton and Scotland and was sent to France, where he met Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, the head of the “Alliance” intelligence network, and got to work, which involved destroying the most important parts of factories, minimizing deaths. Throughout, Kix proves to be an adept biographer, avoiding hagiography. It’s all true: the bombings, betrayals, and significant successes, right down to his escape as he was being driven to his execution—and all before he was 21.

A winner: the stories are fascinating, the pages nearly turn themselves, and La Rochefoucauld is a true hero.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-232252-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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