WHY THE ALLIES WON

Was the Allied victory in WW II an inevitable triumph of good over evil? No, says Overy (History/King's College, London; The Air War: 19391945, 1981, etc.), in this incisive analysis of the factors that led to victory over Germany, Italy, and Japan. In early 1942, Overy points out, the Axis powers were triumphant in every world theater. Japan had, in a single blow, crippled Allied fleets, had conquered all the Pacific islands within a 1,000-mile perimeter, and was threatening an apparently defenseless Australia. Germany had conquered much of Europe and had inflicted devastating, losses on the Soviet Union. Britain was prostrate, its lifelines threatened by relentless U-boat attacks. The US had yet to mount an armament program, and the Soviet Union seemed industrially exhausted. Yet by 1944 Allied victory was simply a matter of time. Overy explains this remarkable reversal of fortune by reviewing Allied success in each of four zones: the sea war, in which the Allies capitalized on vast US and British fleets, shrewd use of airplanes at sea, and superior intelligence; the Soviet victory on the Eastern front, where Hitler underestimated both the fighting spirit and the renewed production potential of the Soviets; the air war, in which Allied long-range bombing forced the Germans to fight the last two years of the war without air support; and the reconquest of Europe after the D-Day invasion, which sealed Hitler's fate. Overy also analyzes the superior control of resources by the Allies, the combat effectiveness of Allied and Axis troops, the leadership of the two sides, and the moral contrasts between them. He concludes that ``the Allies won . . . because they turned their economic strength into effective fighting power, and turned the moral energies of their people into an effective will to win.'' A cogent look at the 20th century's great turning point. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; History Book Club main selection)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-393-03925-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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