An unsparing critique of the US Air Force's role in the 1986 raid against Tripoli. A colonel who retired after 24 years, Venkus was deputy commander of the British base where the USAF's F-111Fs began and ended their 14-hour bombing mission to punish Qaddafi for sponsoring terrorist acts against American troops in Western Europe. The actual flight apart, he gained an insider's knowledge of the mid-April sortie, which was code-named ``El Dorado Canyon.'' The author has high praise for his fellow pilots and the weapons- systems operators, who carried out the lengthiest combat strike ever, pointing out that these still unidentified airmen endured the mortal perils attendant to refueling aloft in the dark of night and facing deadly defensive batteries around their target areas. Venkus looks back in some anger, however, at the political considerations that skewed preparations for the long-range assault (in which carrier-based US Navy jets also participated). He zeroes in on the top-heavy command structure and planning errors that, in his opinion, led to so-called ``collateral damage'' (i.e., civilian casualties) when ordnance missed assigned objectives. Nor, does the author applaud the risky decision to pin the hellish mission's hopes on an aircraft whose equipment has an unfortunate tendency to fail, even under test conditions. Similarly, he decries the lack of official recognition for those who took part in El Dorado Canyon. On balance, though, Venkus (who denies that killing Qaddafi was a mission priority) concludes that the raid afforded the US a short- run success. A thoroughgoing audit of a feat of arms that, for all it unique aspects, will never be more than a footnote in American military history. (Sixteen pages of photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-07073-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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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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