A powerful, terrible story told in exacting detail. (14 b&w photos, 2 maps).

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MACARTHUR AND DEFEAT IN THE PHILIPPINES

A defining episode in the career of the martial prima donna, dispassionately examined by British military historian Connaughton (The Battle for Manila, not reviewed).

MacArthur, the favored son of a general, always looked upon his own image and found it good. After graduating at the top of his West Point class, he began service in 1903 in the Philippines, whence he wrote fawning messages to superiors much in the style of Uriah Heep. Quickly rising in the ranks, he even had the effrontery to steal the affections of Black Jack Pershing’s mistress, while later on during the Depression he broke up with great zeal the hungry veterans of the Bonus Army when they marched into Washington. During his putative retirement, MacArthur, sporting many ribbons and a baton, became field marshal of the Philippine military—and assumed command of all US forces in the region when WWII broke out. Undeniably brilliant, he and his five-star vanity caused vexed relations with President Quezon, subordinates like Eisenhower and Wainwright, the US Navy, and the US government in general. Most of Connaughton’s text analyzes the archipelago’s military predicament, and, despite his assertions of MacArthur’s mastery of the situation, it’s made plain that his reaction to Pearl Harbor was dilatory and confused. Exhausted forces (ill-equipped, ill-trained, ill-served, and ill-led) sought refuge in doomed Bataan and Corregidor—where they subsisted on half-, then quarter-rations until the cavalry horses had to be butchered. Throughout, MacArthur filed reports that only lightly resembled reality. Before escaping from the scene of the awful defeat, the Potentate of the Pacific secured a considerable emolument from the Philippine government. The historic rout may not have been all his fault, but he sure didn’t help either. Connaughton’s report ends with the famous vow: “I shall return.” Which he did.

A powerful, terrible story told in exacting detail. (14 b&w photos, 2 maps).

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58567-118-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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