A thorough, exciting, and altogether excellent choice for World War II—and especially D-Day—aficionados.

SAND & STEEL

THE D-DAY INVASIONS AND THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE

This massive nuts-and-bolts account corrects many of the inaccuracies surrounding the vaunted Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

British historian Caddick-Adams (Military History/Defence Academy of the U.K.; Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45, 2014, etc.), a major in the British Territorial Army, offers an impressive summary of the sheer materiel and human effort required in securing the Normandy beachhead, from years of preparation to excruciating execution. Examining Gen. Erwin Rommel’s reinforcement of the so-called Atlantikwall, which was supposedly impenetrable, the author underscores some faulty suppositions—e.g., that German soldiers were “supermen” when in fact they were aged, exhausted, and relying heavily on horses for mobility. The American presence in Britain dazzled the local population, while the black American troops were treated with markedly more respect and warmth by the British locals than they were used to back home, prompting one veteran to recall, “our biggest enemy was our own troops.” Caddick-Adams, an expert in this terrain, devotes considerable space to the months of training that the invasion required and the many lives that were lost in run-up accidents; the prickly personalities of the various leading generals; the reliance on the sketchy weather reports; the nerve-wracking decision to delay the invasion 24 hours due to unpromising sea conditions; and how the Germans, who of course knew an invasion was coming at some point, had essentially “applied different criteria for a successful invasion” than the Allies. Following the armada toward Normandy, the author explains the roles of airpower, minesweepers, and assault flotillas and chronicles how, beach by beach, the Allies made their valiant, perilous forward thrust. In an intriguing postscript, he examines the crucial role of the spy network in “inducing Hitler to order a series of mistaken moves based on false intelligence.” There is also a glossary, rank table, and a list of the orders of battles.

A thorough, exciting, and altogether excellent choice for World War II—and especially D-Day—aficionados.

Pub Date: May 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-19-060189-8

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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