A solid bit of maritime history, ably recounting a mere footnote—but an interesting one—to the larger Battle of the Atlantic.

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SHADOW VOYAGE

THE EXTRAORDINARY WARTIME ESCAPE OF THE LEGENDARY LINER S.S. BREMEN

A luxury liner flying the swastika evades the Royal Navy. Paradoxically, writes Huchthausen (Hostile Waters, 1997, etc.) of the cat-and-mouse tale, it made for a victory for the Nazis, and for the British as well.

On August 30, 1939, the 52,000-ton Nazi passenger ship Bremen stole out of New York harbor, cleared Sandy Hook, shut out its lights, and veered north toward Greenland, using bad weather as a shield against what would become many pursuers. For the British to gain the Bremen would be a propaganda victory, but, more important, its seizure would also provide the Royal Navy with a much-needed troop transport ship, the eventual use the Kriegsmarine put it to. The Bremen therefore steered an elaborate evasive course that took it far into arctic waters and to Murmansk, Russia, a friendly port by virtue of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact. From there it steamed to Germany, evading a British vessel that did not fire upon her, it appears, for humanitarian reasons, inasmuch as warships were not then supposed to sink passenger ships. By the time the Salmon found the Bremen, Germany was no longer observing such niceties, a fact by which Britain scored propaganda points and claimed moral victory in the engagement. Huchthausen’s recounting of the Bremen’s tortuous, 14-week journey has its Hunt for Red October moments, but the drama is sometimes blunted by too much detail, swallowing the highlights. Huchthausen also shares Tom Clancy’s fascination with technical arcana; along the way, for instance, he explains why the shape of the Bremen, both long and broad, and its use of the “bulbous forefoot” (“This protrusion makes a hole in the water as the ship plows ahead, forcing seawater away to both sides and downward, thereby reducing drag on the skin of the shop, increasing the mass of the water at the stern, and strengthening the bite against which the propellers can thrust”) were factors in its escape.

A solid bit of maritime history, ably recounting a mere footnote—but an interesting one—to the larger Battle of the Atlantic.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-471-45758-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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