A well-illustrated and capably written glimpse into a slice of WWII history.




Military historian Wetterhahn (Shadowmakers, 2002, etc.) travels into the Far North to investigate a long-ago air crash and turns in a well-told study of a nearly forgotten campaign.

The Aleutians were never more than a sideshow in the larger Pacific War, but what a sideshow they were: as Wetterhahn notes, the presence of a few thousand Japanese invaders tied up nearly 150,000 American and Canadian troops in the early years of WWII, while toward the end “the roles were reversed as a small number of planes flown by U.S. Navy crews forced a large number of Japanese troops to be stationed in the Kuriles”—troops that otherwise would have been put to use against MacArthur’s island-hopping armies farther south. Wetterhahn’s account of the discovery of a downed, bomb-laden American plane in Russia’s Kamchatka region provides a peg on which to hang a larger narrative of the struggle to control the Bering Sea, a battle fought mostly in the air under difficult conditions, with heavy snows, winds that “could be blowing at a hundred miles an hour from every direction at the same time,” and over-extended supply lines complicating an already dangerous business. Adding to this, for both American and Japanese crews, was the odd fact that the Soviet Union was officially neutral until the end of the war, so that American crews that crossed into Russian airspace were in danger of being shot down. So were the Japanese, 600,000 of whom were packed off to the Gulag when the Red Army finally took to the field against them. Aviation and military-history buffs will find all this fascinating, and would-be treasure hunters will be especially interested in Wetterhahn’s account of the whereabouts of a downed PV-1 Ventura, the rarest of period aircraft—though, he warns, the wreck is considered government property and technically off-limits to salvagers.

A well-illustrated and capably written glimpse into a slice of WWII history.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7867-1360-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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