Maslowski (History/University of Nebraska at Lincoln) breaks fresh ground with a comprehensive history of WW II's anonymous heroes: its combat photographers. It may be that neither the brilliant general nor the loyal foot soldier was more crucial to America's WW II effort than the lowly combat photographer, who allowed civilians to witness what no one but soldiers had ever seen, and whose work proved invaluable to both generals and military analysts. The obstacles faced by these soldier/photographers were daunting: the weight of a motion-picture camera and film supply could stagger a man or a mule, and the official still camera was a Speed Graphic, so big and shiny that to pop it up from a foxhole invariably drew a hail of enemy bullets. The superior, lightweight German Leica camera was reverse- engineered by American labs but reached the front only in 1945; by then, however, American combat photographers had their own Leicas- -bought from looters. To assure the credibility of their film documentaries, the armed services had a strict policy of no ``reenactments''—but the trouble was, as one Omaha Beach veteran who later became a Hollywood director pointed out, the real thing didn't look as good as the movies: ``To do it right you'd have to blind the audience with smoke, deafen them with noise, then shoot one of them in the shoulder to scare the rest to death.'' The first great combat-movie breakthrough was John Huston's San Pietro, which documented the liberation of an Italian town. It was released to great acclaim (Time magazine declared that Huston's handiwork was ``as good a war film as any that has been made...remarkable in its honesty and excellence''), but in a fascinating display of historical sleuthing, Maslowski shows that many scenes in San Pietro were staged—including reenacted dialogue and ``dead Germans'' that were actually live GIs dressed in enemy uniforms. Virtuoso scholarship, formidably researched and exciting to read.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-920265-5

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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