Useful for the military scholar and captivating to the general reader, Cowley’s collection is likely to stand among the best...




Cowley (What If?, 1999) was the founding editor of Military History Quarterly. Under his guidance, the journal published not only traditional historical essays from prominent writers (such as Stephen Ambrose and John Keegan), it also collected and printed firsthand accounts of 20th-century battles. Cowley has here collected 44 of these essays, and he organizes them chronologically, opening with a section on the German breakout into Poland and France and closing with works on the brutal end of the war in the Pacific. In addition to the expected contributions from Ambrose, Keegan, and William Manchester, there are intriguing glimpses into the war’s less well-known operations: Dan Kurzman, for instance, brings to life the plan to sabotage Hitler’s A-bomb program by raiding Norway’s heavy-water plant, and George Feifer follows Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels’s bizarre race to complete one final motion picture for the Reich before its disintegration. Eyewitness memoirs (such as William Whyte’s account of patrolling Guadalcanal as a junior Marine officer) lend a participatory air of authority to the proceedings. Although there is nothing new here in terms of historical research, these essays will revive the drama and sense of desperation that marked WWII for a new generation of readers.

Useful for the military scholar and captivating to the general reader, Cowley’s collection is likely to stand among the best histories of the year.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14711-X

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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