A fascinating chronicle that casts a welcome light on policies and procedures unknown by virtually all Americans.



Employing recently declassified documents, Grose (Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles, 1994, etc.) pieces together the clandestine antiCommunist strategy that emerged in the US intelligence community after WWII.

Grose’s tale begins in 1946 as W. Averell Harriman, US ambassador in Moscow, yields to his successor, George F. Kennan, whose role in the emerging antiSoviet policy would be of ``central importance.'' By 1948, Kennan and others had developed a ``remarkable initiative'' (named Operation Rollback only after it was discovered in the 1990s) that would ``start with innocuous propaganda and persuasion, then proceed directly into sabotage, subversion, and paramilitary engagement.'' (Grose credits Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propagandist, with creating the phrase ``Iron Curtain,'' whose rollback this operation was intended to accomplish.) Postwar Europe was a ``pit of human and physical misery,'' with millions of people homeless or otherwise uprooted—a fertile field for Soviet expansion—and Western powers watched helplessly as Stalin indeed moved swiftly to dominate eastern Europe. Grose follows the careers of an impressive cast of characters on both sides of the Iron Curtain: Allen Dulles (who became CIA director), Kim Philby (the Soviet master spy whose efforts thwarted many of Rollback’s maneuvers), Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, and William Sloane Coffin (a US agent during Rollback who later became an antiwar activist during the Vietnam conflict). By 1952, contends Grose, Rollback was spending $100 million, without even cursory congressional oversight. Some funds went for quixotic plans—like using highaltitude balloons to drop propaganda leaflets (``four hundred tons of reading matter'') on eastern Europe. Others went for the arming, training (incredibly, Dachau was one site), and deployment of small military forces whose incursions into Albania and even the Soviet Union itself were quickly stifled by local forces alerted in advance by Soviet intelligence, whose organization was ``far ahead of the West in building agent networks.''

A fascinating chronicle that casts a welcome light on policies and procedures unknown by virtually all Americans. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 4, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-51606-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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