A fine and moving story, full of heroes.


An affecting portrait of the first American combat fatality in the Iraq war, and of those who suffered his loss.

As Hartford Courant staff writer Buck (Flight of Passage, 1997) reports, Marine Lt. Shane Childers was “one of a handful of grunts picked every year for promotion from the enlisted to commissioned officer ranks,” and for good reason: he excelled at everything he turned his hand to, had grown from redneck to world traveler and would-be French teacher, and was “the kind of soldier whom all the enlisted men and officers boasted about and who was well known throughout the network of Marine bases across the country.” His legend, the reader is left to presume, will only increase in the wake of his death. Shot down only a dozen hours after assuming command of a rifle platoon while attempting to secure an Iraqi oil-pumping station, Childers was an exemplary soldier; of that Buck leaves no doubt. But there are other noteworthy soldiers in Buck’s cast of characters, including the young CACO, or Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, assigned to bring the news of Childers’s death to his family. Buck’s leisurely developed account of the rituals by which Marines attend to their fallen is very well done, though at points not for the squeamish. Well done, too, are the character studies that emerge as Buck relates the effects of Childers’s death on his small community and his many relatives. Childers’s inconsolable Vietnam vet father and his mother wrestle early on with the question of whether to inter him in Arlington National Cemetery, “buried in the company of soldiers he practically knew,” but decide instead to return him to the Wyoming mountain country he loved; in each step of reaching each decision, they emerge as people of great principle. So do Childers’s fellow Marines, and particularly that young captain, who questions the war in Iraq but nonetheless lobbies hard to be sent to fight there, doing the job he was trained to do.

A fine and moving story, full of heroes.

Pub Date: March 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-059325-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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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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