An authoritative, compelling study sure to raise hackles.



Hansen (Politics/Univ. of Toronto; Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945, 2009, etc.) examines how the German people—even the military—had had enough of Hitler’s mad schemes.

Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, did not manage to kill Hitler, but there were plenty of higher-up military officers who had hoped it would, and they waited anxiously for the outcome to see which way the political wind was blowing. Scholar Hansen employs his considerable knowledge of Allied movement into Germany at the close of the war to reveal where the pockets of resistance were located, especially in light of Hitler’s furious, scorched-earth endgame. Many military resisters like Stauffenberg came from the middle ranks, and the author describes them as “Bismarckian,” honor-bound and goal-oriented rather than sharing Hitler’s “nihilistic,” genocidal vision. They were fed up with Hitler’s centralization of military power, his amateur meddling and even, for those deeply Christian, appalled by the war of extermination of local populations in occupied territory. Others, like Erwin Rommel, knew the war was lost, and armaments minister Albert Speer, for reasons of power, actively circumvented many of Hitler’s decrees. As the Allied forces began to infiltrate Germany, the factors in building resistance were complex, but mainly, the Nazi command structure was breaking down. In Paris, Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz dithered, sparing the city from destruction. Southern ports of Toulon and Marseilles, although rendered German “fortresses” and ordered to be defended to the last man, were handed over to the Allies without total demolition, while the liberation of German cities, one by one, was frequently aided by civilian resistance of military command.

An authoritative, compelling study sure to raise hackles.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-19-992792-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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