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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


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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