A well-crafted essay that will appeal to WWII buffs and professional historians alike.

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THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

THE MYTH AND THE REALITY

A slender meditation on a critical episode in WWII history.

During the Battle of Britain in 1940, as popular memory has it, outnumbered pilots of the RAF turned back wave after wave of Nazi aircraft that were bent on bombing England into submission. Overy (Why the Allies Won, 1996) subtly adjusts the record. He observes that the RAF was, in most respects, an even match for the Luftwaffe in the number and quality of its aircraft and pilots, and that the British air forces far outnumbered the German invaders in the waning days of the offensive. The German Messerschmitt, he allows, was more powerful than the Spitfire, but only at high altitudes (“if the Battle of Britain had been fought at 30,000 feet,” Overy notes, “the RAF would have lost it”), but the flexible organization of British squadrons meant that the RAF could get planes into the sky quickly enough to counter lower-altitude bombers. Furthermore, the author holds, the Germans did not deliberately seek out civilian targets during the early years of the war, although their tactics would soon “reveal the gradual abandonment of any pretence that civilians and civilian morale would not become targets”—and, in any event, as many as 40,000 British civilians died in bombing raids over the south of England during the weeks when the Battle of Britain raged most fiercely. That England avoided defeat and the possibility of a German sea-and-land invasion gave it a surprising resolve. (Harold Nicolson, for example, confided afterwards to his diary: “I think we have managed to avoid losing this war. But when I think how on earth we are going to win it, my imagination quails.”) That resolve would be expressed in some of Winston Churchill’s finest speeches, and in British memory for generations to follow.

A well-crafted essay that will appeal to WWII buffs and professional historians alike.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-393-02008-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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 sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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