A unique take on the war, from the point of view of the young, idealistic and foolhardy.

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INTO DUST AND FIRE

FIVE YOUNG AMERICANS WHO WENT FIRST TO FIGHT THE NAZI ARMY

A multifaceted, moving story of five American Ivy League students who committed themselves to fight alongside the British in the spring of 1941.

Journalist Cox, the relative of one of the recruits, pieces together this extraordinary story of five patriotic young students at Dartmouth and Harvard who bucked the official U.S. decision to remain out of the war while the Nazis were conquering Europe and offered themselves as volunteers for the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Dartmouth senior Charles G. Bolté led the way by firing off an incendiary letter to President Roosevelt on the front page of the student newspaper announcing, “Now we have waited long enough.” At Harvard, senior Rob Cox had been wrestling with his own decision, spurred by a high draft number; while visiting a friend at Dartmouth that spring, he persuaded fellow Dartmouth students Jack Brister and Bill Durkee, along with Harvard sophomore Heyward Cutting, to join the fight. Within six weeks the five well-educated, fairly privileged young men arrived by Allied convoy to Halifax. Mixing in with the English they underwent recruit and officer training at Winchester and were considered curiosities and often displayed for the press and upper echelon. When events in North Africa boiled over, they were finally sent out by freighter in June 1942—the author gives a terrific account of onboard shenanigans and reflections by the bored, fearful men. They endured harsh conditions in the desert and were engaged in the decisive, ferocious Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. Brister was the only Yank not wounded in this battle; once Cox had recovered from being shot in the back, he and Brister returned to fight, and they both died in the Battle of Mareth in 1943. Bolté went on to pursue the cause of veterans’ rights and international peace; his first book, The New Veteran (1945), was dedicated to his fallen colleagues.

A unique take on the war, from the point of view of the young, idealistic and foolhardy.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-451-23475-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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