HARD BARGAIN

HOW FDR TWISTED CHURCHILL'S ARM, EVADED THE LAW, AND CHANGED THE ROLE OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY

Los Angeles Times correspondent Shogan argues that FDR negotiated harshly and covertly with a beleaguered Winston Churchill in the celebrated 1940 deal that marked the commencement of Anglo-American cooperation in WW II. The story's outline is well-known: While England was fighting for survival in the Battle of Britain, President Roosevelt braved isolationist sentiment to trade a handful of old destroyers (badly needed by the Royal Navy to counter the German U-boat onslaught) for American bases in British colonies. The deal laid the foundation for the Atlantic Alliance that ultimately won the war against Hitler. In this careful, step-by-step review of the negotiations leading to the accord, Shogan argues that ``in implementing the destroyer deal, Roosevelt followed a pattern of manipulation and concealment'' that breached his trust as president. The author also contends that Roosevelt's pursuit of a policy he knew to be unacceptable to the isolationist American public and contrary to the Walsh Amendment, which restricted transfers of military matÇriel abroad, set a precedent for the postwar buildup of excessive presidential power. Shogan (The Riddle of Power, 1991, etc.) draws a convincing portrait of a chief executive determined on the one hand to get the best bargain he could for the United States (without excessive regard for legal niceties) and on the other to help Britain while avoiding any overt entanglement with the war effort during a crucial election year. In the end, as Shogan points out, Roosevelt presented Congress with a fait accompli. The author might have noted the emergency nature of Britain's plight, however, and the fact that other presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, took actions of similarly questionable legality during national crises. A detailed and absorbing analysis, although not all readers will agree with Shogan's critical view of FDR's actions and his tracing of modern presidential abuses to the destroyers-for-bases accord.

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-689-12160-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1995

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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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