Cliffs Notes for interventionists.

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AMERICA’S SPLENDID LITTLE WARS

A SHORT HISTORY OF U.S. MILITARY ENGAGEMENTS: 1975-2000

America: the world’s policeman—and, as depicted here, an equal mix of Dirty Harry and Barney Fife.

No sooner had American helicopters cleared the rooftops of Saigon than a band of Khmer Rouge boarded the USS Mayaguez off the coast of Cambodia, capturing its crew and throwing still another crisis at the Ford administration. Though still smarting from defeat in Vietnam, writes retired naval officer Huchthausen (Hostile Waters, 1997, etc.), the contingency planners at the Pentagon swung into action, launching a combined assault of soldiers, marines, sailors, and aviators at the surprised kidnappers, who released their captives and disappeared into the jungle. Thus it would be for the next quarter-century, though with a few surprises gumming up the works, as when the Somali warlord Muhammad Aidid divined that downing a Black Hawk helicopter would draw such rescuers “into a location of his choosing where he could concentrate a massive number of his rabble in arms and gain a major victory against the Americans.” With a few qualified exceptions, Huchthausen writes approvingly of American intervention around the world, caressing the details of such coups as Grenada, “a job done at the right time, though in haste,” and Panama, which proved, at least to the brass, the virtues of both surprise and the use of massive firepower against enemies who could not hope to respond in kind. (Think of Iraq in 2003, which lies just beyond the author’s scope here.) Huchthausen offers useful remarks on strategy and a pointed critique of the dangers of “employing civilian management techniques” in military operations, as with the failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. Still, it’s a too-shallow treatment of complex events, far less satisfying than Max Boot’s more ambitious and more capable Savage Wars of Peace (2002), which covers much the same ground.

Cliffs Notes for interventionists.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-670-03232-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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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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