An accessible, well-honed study of two fascinating characters.



Two consummate military men who led their respective countries to victories receive the full-on character treatment by a British military historian.

While heavy with military detail, Caddick-Adams’ dual biography manages to move fluidly between the events in the two great generals’ lives. Bernard Montgomery (1887–1976) and Erwin Rommel (1891–1944) both hailed from middle-class, nonmilitary families; received their “baptism by fire” during battle in World War I and were wounded; wrote tactical textbooks; and were instrumental in their respective countries’ battles during World War II in North Africa and Normandy. Though they never met, they shared a similar oppositional temperament in regards to their superiors. Both leaders were happiest on the front line. Rommel only lasted a year (1918) at the General Staff Corps, unlike most of Hitler’s later marshals, preferring to teach during the interwar years, and publishing his influential Infantry Attacks, in 1937. Montgomery trained fledging divisions in the Territorial Army, including six years in India. Rommel was put in charge of Hitler’s military escort in 1936, then a panzer division in the blitz of France in 1940. Though he had no armored experience, he was spectacularly successful, and again in North Africa. The Normandy invasion caught Rommel “tending his wife’s roses in the garden at Herrlingen,” while Montgomery led as the highly effective Allied land-force commander. Caddick-Adams emphasizes Rommel’s ethical behavior as a war commander, urging Hitler repeatedly to cede a “political situation” in the face of Armageddon, with fatal consequences to his own life. The author considers at length the postwar mythmaking regarding both generals.

An accessible, well-honed study of two fascinating characters.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59020-725-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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