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

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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