While WS-117L was not entirely successful, Dienesch asserts in this solid, specialized scholarly study, it laid the...

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EYEING THE RED STORM

EISENHOWER AND THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO BUILD A SPY SATELLITE

A study of how the Dwight Eisenhower administration created the first U.S. satellite reconnaissance mission.

The desperate need for better intelligence of Soviet strategic capacities plagued the post–World War II presidencies of Harry Truman and Eisenhower, gaining special urgency in the wake of the Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957. Canadian historian Dienesch (Univ. of Windsor, Ontario) examines how the shock and terror that the orbiting of the Sputnik satellite instilled in the American public and the Eisenhower administration proved the catalyst for the implementation of the American reconnaissance satellite program, which was up and running only 34 months after the Russian’s launch. The WS-117L program, the precursor to the more successful Corona satellites, was the prototype, engineered during the early years of the Eisenhower administration by the U.S. Air Force and cloaked in secrecy. Dienesch asserts that very little has been written about this precursor, dwarfed by research on the later Corona program, which the CIA took over from the Air Force. To understand the later triumphs, the author steps back to look at Eisenhower’s initial motivation. The threefold challenges Eisenhower faced were to protect the U.S. from Soviet aggression, to establish economic security (the economy was besieged by the huge increase needed for defense spending to combat this threat), and to withstand the pressure from the military, which was whipping itself into a state of overmilitarization. Deterrence and containment were the new watchwords, and a satellite that would monitor the Soviet Union was the answer. The author looks at the RAND development of the satellite from 1945 to 1954 and how the satellite was supposed to retrieve film, though it suffered from management and other problems and was retired by the end of Eisenhower’s second term, replaced by Corona.

While WS-117L was not entirely successful, Dienesch asserts in this solid, specialized scholarly study, it laid the foundation for the U.S. space effort for the next 40 years.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8032-5572-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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