COMBAT SWIMMER

MEMOIRS OF A NAVY SEAL

Captain Gormly, USN (Ret.), a much-decorated, high-ranking SEAL who served for all of 29 years in this elite, secret arm of the navy, recalls his high-risk tours of duty in Vietnam, Granada, the Persian Gulf, and the suspense-filled mission to capture the hijackers of the Achille Lauro. Operating in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, he and his superbly trained fellow warriors beat the terrorist Viet Cong guerrillas at their own game—partly because, as Gormly tells it, the SEALs saw water as a haven, not an obstacle; with the help of their excellent equipment, they could stay submerged safely for many hours. And Gormly believes that the SEAL experience in Vietnam can be seen as a microcosmic symbol of the greater US effort that fought the wrong kind of war: a battle of attrition waged according to the advice of military leaders who failed to understand that they were facing a political-military conundrum. To explain the conundrum, he likens the communist attempt at world domination to a giant lizard. The lizard’s head represents the small group of dedicated communists who formed the political infrastructure, while its tail suggests the communist military force, filled with average people—apolitical but forced to fight by terror or coercion. Our mistake, Gormly writes, was to cut off the tail of the lizard (which then merely grew another tail) while failing to destroy the head, the infrastructure. The far more successful communist strategy was to outlast the Americans, who would tire and go home after losing 58,000 soldiers. Gormly can’t forget the picture of Jane Fonda posing with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery that had shot down a US plane. Nor can he forgive the US pardoning of draft dodgers who objected to the war. His riposte: Even dutiful combat soldiers also object to war—as did the patriotic author. A candid and unstinting military memoir. (8 pages b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-94326-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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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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