An uneven war story that will appeal to aficionados of the Pacific theater and wartime espionage.

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MACARTHUR'S SPIES

THE SOLDIER, THE SINGER, AND THE SPYMASTER WHO DEFIED THE JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II

Bringing to light a little-known facet of the Pacific theater in World War II.

Veteran foreign correspondent Eisner (The Pope's Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler, 2013, etc.) tracks three complicated stories of Allied heroics that took place when the Japanese attacked and invaded the Philippines just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese overran the American-held archipelago, driving the Americans to the Bataan peninsula and to the fortress of Corregidor before eventually forcing Gen. Douglas MacArthur to flee to Australia with his family and staff in March 1942 and the rest of the Americans and Filipinos to surrender ignominiously in April. Moving chronologically, Eisner alternates among the characters while concentrating on the actions of an enigmatic American woman from Michigan, born Claire Phillips, who had so many aliases and secrets after she left home as a teenager that it was hard for the biographer to ascertain the truth. Nonetheless, after three marriages, she wound up in Manila, braving the Japanese occupation with a foster child. After wooing a younger American soldier, with whom she went to Bataan, she eventually opened a nightclub for the Japanese officers in Manila, the Tsubaki Club, in order to finance her covert activities to aid the American POWs. Meanwhile, above the hills of Bataan, John Boone, a 29-year-old colonel, had lost contact with his army after the Japanese invasion and, recognizing the desperation of the surrender, began to organize a guerrilla army made up of other stragglers and deserters, supported materially by Phillips, known as “High Pockets,” and others. Eisner’s third link is slippery U.S.–born Navy reserve officer Charles “Chick” Parsons, who, masquerading as a Spanish- and Tagalog-speaking businessman, was able to relay supplies and information to the guerrillas. Though the individual stories are gripping, the writing is workmanlike and Eisner struggles to organize these detailed threads into a cohesive narrative.

An uneven war story that will appeal to aficionados of the Pacific theater and wartime espionage.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42965-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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