Lyman’s book does not supplant Shirer’s firsthand accounts or Flanner’s and Gellhorn’s reports from the field, but it makes...




Historical study of American expatriates and travelers—George Kennan, Eric Sevareid, Josephine Baker, and many more—in the dawning years of World War II.

If most Americans were murky on the details of Hitler’s regime until after the United States entered the fight in 1941, some had very specific information gleaned from close-up study: journalists, diplomats, scholars, writers, artists, and others who found themselves in Europe in the late 1930s. British historian Lyman (Among the Headhunters: An Extraordinary World War II Story of Survival in the Burmese Jungle, 2016, etc.) populates his pages with some of the better known of them, including William L. Shirer, who, as a Berlin correspondent, witnessed the Nazi regime’s rise to power, and Martha Gellhorn, who tracked fascism as she traveled through Europe. Others are now perhaps less well known to general readers, such as Janet Flanner, who was in Austria at the time of the Anschluss and marveled at how deliberately anti-Semitic laws were put into place. “Jewish doctors and lawyers were slowly being deprived of their right to practice,” writes the author, “although for the time being Flanner was still able to buy from Jewish shops, many of which continued to trade.” Flanner turns up later in the book, now in Paris, where she further marveled at the efficiency of the Nazi machine, thanks to “the German passion for bureaucracy.” The most compelling parts of Lyman’s portraits of Americans in Europe in the time of what Churchill called “the gathering storm” concern people most readers will not have heard of, such as the Quaker aid worker Leonard Kenworthy, whose dreams were haunted by the faces of the Jews whom he could not save after the Nazi deportations began. “Quaker diligence, faithfulness, hard work, and prayer came to nothing in the face of Nazi indifference to their fate," the author concludes.

Lyman’s book does not supplant Shirer’s firsthand accounts or Flanner’s and Gellhorn’s reports from the field, but it makes a useful supplement.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-736-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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