by Rebecca Frankel ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 14, 2014
Engaging accounts of dogs working in war zones and aiding their handlers despite the imminent dangers.
Stories of dogs and their human handlers on the front lines of war.
Frankel tells the stories of canines and their companions who have aided soldiers in the first and second world wars, Vietnam, and the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the battlefields and off them, dogs bring an added level of security to highly unstable situations, since their ability to sniff out potential danger far outshines that of their human counterparts. For instance, in Iraq and Afghanistan, IEDs are used with increasing frequency and have become the “single biggest threat to U.S. troops on the ground.” As the author notes, "the role of military working dogs in these wars has almost exclusively been devoted to combating IEDs." In order to distinguish a plain pile of rocks from a pile with a bomb underneath, the dogs must be able to identify the different smells found in mortar shells, C-4, detonation cords and pressure plates, while their handlers must watch for anything out of the ordinary or anything that shows the tiniest sign of human interference. Together, the dog and handler form tight bonds that remain strong on and off the battlefield. Frankel chronicles her discussions with handlers and kennel masters who have worked with numerous dogs during their military careers, bringing to light the personal stories of love and devotion each feels toward the other. Although "canine training can be a rough-and-tumble business" with multiple scratches and bite marks as evidence, Frankel discovered that having dogs involved in combat situations brings a much-needed layer of understanding to the complex experience of war. For those not in the military, the author’s observations will aid them in gaining a deeper appreciation of what the troops on the ground and their dog companions endure.Engaging accounts of dogs working in war zones and aiding their handlers despite the imminent dangers.
Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014
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Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a...
A lovely, lively historical survey that takes in Neanderthals, Hohenzollerns and just about everything in between.
In 1935, Viennese publisher Walter Neurath approached Gombrich, who would go on to write the canonical, bestselling Story of Art, to translate a history textbook for young readers. Gombrich volunteered that he could do better than the authors, and Neurath accepted the challenge, provided that a completed manuscript was on his desk in six weeks. This book, available in English for the first time, is the happy result. Gombrich is an engaging narrator whose explanations are charming if sometimes vague. (Take the kid-friendly definition of truffles: “Truffles,” he says, “are a very rare and special sort of mushroom.” End of lesson.) Among the subjects covered are Julius Caesar (who, Gombrich exults, was able to dictate two letters simultaneously without getting confused), Charlemagne, the American Civil War, Karl Marx, the Paris Commune and Kaiser Wilhelm. As he does, he offers mostly gentle but pointed moralizing about the past, observing, for instance, that the Spanish conquest of Mexico required courage and cunning but was “so appalling, and so shaming to us Europeans that I would rather not say anything more about it,” and urging his young readers to consider that perhaps not all factory owners were as vile as Marx portrayed them to be, even though the good owners “against their conscience and their natural instincts, often found themselves treating their workers in the same way”—which is to say, badly.Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a fine conception and summarizing of the world’s checkered past for young and old.
Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005
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by Laura Hillenbrand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 16, 2010
Alternately stomach-wrenching, anger-arousing and spirit-lifting—and always gripping.
The author of Seabiscuit (2001) returns with another dynamic, well-researched story of guts overcoming odds.
Hillenbrand examines the life of Louis Zamperini, an American airman who, after his bomber crashed in the Pacific during World War II, survived 47 days on a life raft only to be captured by Japanese soldiers and subjected to inhuman treatment for the next two years at a series of POW camps. That his life spiraled out of control when he returned home to the United States is understandable. However, he was able to turn it around after meeting Billy Graham, and he became a Christian speaker and traveled to Japan to forgive his tormentors. The author reconstructs Zamperini’s wild youth, when his hot temper, insubordination, and bold pranks seemed to foretell a future life of crime. His talents as a runner, however, changed all that, getting him to the 1936 Olympics and to the University of Southern California, where he was a star of the track team. When the story turns to World War II, Hillenbrand expands her narrative to include men who served with him in the Air Corps in the Pacific. Through letters and interviews, she brings to life not just the men who were with Zamperini on the life raft and in the Japanese camps, but the families they left behind. The suffering of the men is often difficult to read, for the details of starvation, thirst and shark attacks are followed by the specifics of the brutalities inflicted by the Japanese, particularly the sadistic Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who seemed dedicated to making Zamperini’s life unbearable. Hillenbrand follows Watanabe’s life after the Japanese surrender, providing the perfect foil to Zamperini’s. When Zamperini wrote to his former tormentor to forgive him and attempted to meet him in person, Watanabe rejected him. Throughout are photographs of World War II bombers, POW camps, Zamperini and his fellow GIs and their families and sweethearts, providing a glimpse into a bygone era. Zamperini is still thriving at age 93.Alternately stomach-wrenching, anger-arousing and spirit-lifting—and always gripping.
Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2010
Page Count: 496
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010
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