For students of technological history and political wrangling alike, the book is endlessly interesting and full of...



They may soon be delivering this book to you, but for now, writes Woodrow Wilson Center global fellow Whittle in this follow-up to his excellent The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey (2010), drones are anything but your friends.

Put a laser, a cannon and some Hellfire missiles into an unmanned aircraft, and you have a potent killing machine. The impulse to create the unmanned drone came from an Israeli lab in response to a quite specific problem: namely, Soviet rockets with multistage radars aimed at Israeli jets by Syrian and Egyptian fighters. The emergent need for a decoy aircraft that would look just like a full-scale jet to radar surveillance prompted inventor Abraham Karem to come up with an even better solution. Fast-forward four decades, and the drone has become commonplace, increasingly used by American forces after 9/11. Getting there is the subject of Whittle’s narrative, which soon lands on a second big problem—that unmanned aircraft are inherently less safe than piloted ones. In between, the author looks at the machinations of defense industry contractors and military procurement specialists to get the latest and greatest (and, it seems, most expensive) hardware into the air. There’s plenty of geekery befitting a Tom Clancy novel to keep readers entertained, with Whittle occasionally sliding into jargon-y prose: “After takeoff, the pilot was to fly the Predator to mission altitude, where a technician would bore-sight the MTS ball; next the pilot would put the Predator into an orbit, at which point the mission crew at the GCS at CIA headquarters would take control using the Ku-band satellite link.” Such longueurs aside, Whittle’s account comes to a pointed conclusion: Drone technology has already changed how we die, but what remains to be seen is how it “may change the way people live.”

For students of technological history and political wrangling alike, the book is endlessly interesting and full of implication.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9964-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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