A resounding victory in historiography.

THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

Superbly written finale to Cambridge University historian Evans’s three-volume study of Nazi Germany (after The Coming of the Third Reich, 2004, and The Third Reich in Power, 2005).

Hitler had promised, “Give me ten years and you’ll see what I’ve made out of Germany,” and early on in the 1940s his subjects had the growing feeling that what he was making was not good. By 1945, one woman recorded, the promise “has for months been his most often-quoted, out of bitterness.” Daringly, she burned her Nazi flag, joining a resistance that had been gathering strength since 1943, when, as Evans notes, the French and various Yugoslavian factions, among many other groups, became a real military presence in German-occupied lands. Evans’s view is panoramic and thematic. Early in this sprawling book, he recognizes the Nazi “final solution” as a primary motive for war, particularly in the East, and he discusses the Nazi policy of Jewish eradication in chilling detail. Interestingly, the author is always looking for chinks in the armor. He notes, for instance, that Hermann Göring objected to the resettlement of Jews as detrimental to the war economy, even as Nazi typologists were trying to invent categories to admit pro-Nazi poles into the German ethnic ranks. (Uncomfortably for them, Poles in the resistance, by Nazi accounts, tended to have “a significant proportion of Nordic blood.”) Evans charts the steadily deteriorating German course of war, from the end of the U-boat campaign in the Atlantic to Stalingrad and the Allied advance into the German homeland. His notes on the denouement—including the incomplete denazification of German government and the arrival into the United States and many South American nations of known war criminals—are fascinating as well. But why another book on the Third Reich? Evans closes stirringly: It is necessary to study the Nazi regime as an example of what can happen if—well, let Evans tell that story for himself.

A resounding victory in historiography.

Pub Date: March 23, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59420-206-3

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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