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AN ARMY AT DAWN

THE WAR IN NORTH AFRICA, 1942-1943

The most thorough and satisfying history yet of the campaigns in North Africa. (Two 16-page photo inserts, 18 maps)

First volume in a projected WWII trilogy by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Atkinson, who shows North Africa’s desert battlefields inspiring America’s raw recruits to rise up and defeat Nazi Germany’s dangerous professional army.

Given his success with modern military history (Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War, 1993, etc.), the penetrating historical insights Atkinson brings to bear on America’s 1942–43 invasion of the North African coast are not surprising. Neither the American leadership under Eisenhower nor the GIs themselves understood the level of fury it would take to defeat General Rommel’s Afrika Corps, argues the author. He finds that the relative ease American soldiers had in pushing aside lackluster Vichy French forces led US generals to also expect a token resistance from the German armies. It was anything but token, Atkinson finds; instead of rolling through the German panzers, untested American forces found themselves brutally manhandled by a more experienced enemy and disparaged as inferior soldiers by their British allies. The author describes Eisenhower’s gradual awakening to the need to protect American morale and prestige from British sniping as critical to finding the proper balance between command and international politics. Atkinson also demonstrates that early battle failures such as the one at Kasserine Pass toughened the American soldiers and their leadership: commanders like George Patton and Omar Bradley rose to refute British criticism; GIs learned that defeating the veteran Axis forces would take more personal discipline and sacrifice than they had ever imagined. By the end of the campaign in North Africa, the author convincingly argues, the American army emerged from North Africa ready to lead the Allied forces onto the European continent to finish off the Nazi threat.

The most thorough and satisfying history yet of the campaigns in North Africa. (Two 16-page photo inserts, 18 maps)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2002

ISBN: 0-8050-6288-2

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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