Weintraub’s research on the prisoners’ experiences in the camps is remarkable as he narrates Judy and Frank’s heroic tale.

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NO BETTER FRIEND

ONE MAN, ONE DOG, AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF COURAGE AND SURVIVAL IN WWII

An unusual and moving story of a singular hero among fellow POWs of the Japanese during World War II: a loyal British pointer named Judy.

With bite and substance, Slate columnist Weintraub (The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age, 2013, etc.) chronicles Judy’s incredible life. Two British soldiers initially adopted her as a mascot for the HMS Gnat, which patrolled the Yangtze River, and she went on to a highly dangerous and decorated career with her captured crew. As a puppy at the Shanghai Dog Kennels, Judy (adapted from her Chinese given name, Shudi, meaning “peaceful”) got kicked around by the invading Japanese sailors, so she learned early on aboard the Gnat who her friends were. The men adored her, and although she was not properly trained as a “gun dog,” pointing at game, she became invaluable for her early warnings of danger. In telling Judy’s adventures, as she was moved from Singapore to a stint in several miserable Japanese POW camps in the Dutch East Indies, Weintraub delineates the plight of the British sailors who took care of her and kept her safe. With the fall of Singapore in early 1942, a massive evacuation was undertaken in Keppel Harbor, from which many refugee boats took off but few survived the strafing by Japanese planes. Miraculously, Judy survived, but she was captured by the Japanese. In captivity, she met the man who would become her lifetime master, Londoner Frank Williams, formerly of the Merchant Navy, who was too tall to fly but worked in mechanics and radar. By mutual trust and aid, dog and man survived several brutal Japanese camps together, braving hunger, sadistic guards, snakes, and tigers.

Weintraub’s research on the prisoners’ experiences in the camps is remarkable as he narrates Judy and Frank’s heroic tale.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33706-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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