Military buffs will take it in stride, but Americans accustomed to 30 years of campaigns in which a single soldier’s death...




A fine, precisely detailed record of an obscure but nasty battle in Vietnam in which heroism was forgotten even more quickly than the war itself.

The book begins in 2009 when President Obama awarded survivors the Presidential Unit Citation, a rare, highly prized honor. Intrigued by the long delay, Vietnam veteran and writer Keith discovered that the battle produced dozens of medal recommendations that were declined or ignored until one veteran, Capt. John Poindexter, discovered the oversight 30 years later. Stimulated, Keith delved into military archives as well as accounts and writing of the men themselves to tell their story. On March 26, 1970, an infantry company stumbled into a fortified North Vietnamese army stronghold and were immediately surrounded and pinned down. Dense tropical-forest cover ruled out the usual air support; with only a few hours of ammunition the outnumbered unit faced annihilation. Four kilometers away another unit heard the noise. Without orders and already exhausted by several days of activity, its armor and men forced their way through the jungle, drove off the enemy and extracted all the surrounded men, dead and injured included. Keeping the traditional patriotic overlay to a minimum and with only a modest amount of invented dialogue, Keith provides engrossing, almost minute-by-minute account of the preliminaries and the battle itself.

Military buffs will take it in stride, but Americans accustomed to 30 years of campaigns in which a single soldier’s death is news and more than one makes the front page will squirm to read that in the typical war, men die en masse.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-68192-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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