A damning indictment of French collaboration with the Nazi regime. Historian Burrin (Hitler and the Jews, not reviewed, etc.; Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva) has immersed himself in the archives and emerged with a disturbing portrait of war-time France under the German occupation. From Paris, Munich, Bonn, and Rome, the evidence is indisputable: Only a tiny minority of the French opted for active resistance to the Nazis; the vast majority saw no other choice but to submit. That submission ran the gamut from quiet rage and hatred to active support of and participation in the worst aspects of Nazi rule. Americans might find it difficult to empathize with these French citizens, yet Burrin reminds us that we are fortunate to have escaped the experience of foreign occupation for over 200 years (and some might even dispute labeling British rule here as ``foreign''). Three sections of French society are scrutinized: the government, civil society, and the ``intellectuals'' (politicians, journalists, and academics). This division may perhaps be artificial, since clearly the three categories overlap; indeed, a single person could be in all three divisions at once. Burrin invites us into the world of the collaborationist, showing how it was often difficult to choose sides. At the same time, he reveals the always sordid reality of collaboration through access to newly opened Vichy police files and information gleaned from telephone taps and mail censorship. The reader is left with the clear realization that the uniquely French disease cited by the French scholar Henri Rousso as ``the Vichy syndrome'' was endemic and may still infect French right-wing political groups today.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1997

ISBN: 1-56584-323-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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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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