An accomplished historian with a welcome personal touch.

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A MEASURELESS PERIL

AMERICA IN THE FIGHT FOR THE ATLANTIC, THE LONGEST BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II

Former longtime American Heritage editor Snow (Coney Island: A Postcard Journey to the City of Fire, 1983, etc.) examines the Atlantic theater of World War II, where his father fought.

The Pacific is often considered the primary locale for the naval battles of WWII, but the effort in the Atlantic, centered on protecting supply lines between the United States and Europe, was no less vital. Snow uses the experiences of his father, a Navy man who had served in the Atlantic, as a jumping-off point to tell the wider story of what would be known as the Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945), in which Allied ships were pitted against hard-to-track German submarines. The Atlantic war began in earnest after a German U-boat torpedoed and sunk a British passenger ship in 1939. The author shows how the situation complicated the United States’ then-neutral stance in the war. Soon Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt began corresponding, leading to a deal in which the United States sold destroyers to the British, bypassing the antiwar Congress. In December 1941, Hitler ordered German U-boats to attack American ships, bringing the States fully into the Atlantic war. It proved to be a grueling, drawn-out affair, the longest continuous campaign of World War II. Churchill called the struggle against the German U-boats “the only thing that ever really frightened [him] during the war.” Snow looks at several important figures in the campaign, and he writes at length about Karl Doenitz, the commander of the German submarine fleet, whose strategic thinking about the use of submarines—specifically, using U-boats to focus on attacking merchant ships—transformed naval warfare. The author also uses letters and recollections of his father, providing a palpable sense of the daily activity of an enlisted man in the Atlantic war.

An accomplished historian with a welcome personal touch.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9110-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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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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