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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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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