The international Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union did not lead to World War III, but as Chamberlin...




A revisionist history of the Cold War era.

The traditional historical narrative of the Cold War is that it was a bipolar conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union during which proxy conflicts occasionally flared, and in which tensions were at times almost unimaginably fraught, but where the two antagonists avoided a hot war. However, as Chamberlin (History/Columbia Univ.; The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the PostCold War Order, 2012) shows in this ambitious, important book, while the two nuclear powers never engaged in a shooting war, the era from 1945 to 1990 was hardly the “Long Peace” of legend. The author explores a vast swath of geographical territory and shows how, at the time, these “bloodlands” were engulfed in myriad devastating conflicts, sometimes as Cold War proxies but often as combatants in internecine struggles tied into Cold War politics but not always bound to the major powers. The result was some 14 million deaths, the majority of which were civilians; for them, the war was anything but cold. Chamberlin, who writes gracefully and argues convincingly, sees many of these conflicts predominantly through the American geopolitical lens, but he still takes a broad view of these regional and global politics, which uncoil in phases that follow the geography from east to west. The author’s research is impressive, though due to the vast geographic parameters, much of the work is necessarily synthetic. Because of this book’s scope, size, and ambition (more than 600 pages including notes and index), it is perhaps churlish to criticize what the author does not address, but hopefully future historians will take Chamberlin’s significant arguments and extend them to Africa and Latin America, where they are equally applicable.

The international Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union did not lead to World War III, but as Chamberlin ably shows in this tour de force, that does not mean the era’s rivalries did not result in widespread carnage.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-236720-4

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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