A tough slog for anyone without a technical interest in the workings of an army.




Sturdy but plodding account of the hell of World War I.

France-based military historian Ford turns in a comprehensive survey of the Great War as it was fought over territory belonging to a rapidly crumbling Ottoman Empire, including Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and what is now Saudi Arabia. With its battle-by-battle, unit-by-unit narrative, the book seems intended for an audience of professional historians rather than history buffs, and the writing is excessively dry. Ford’s attention is often focused on matters of order of battle rather than of the battle itself—e.g., “In front of Bitlis Nazarbekov had the 7th and 8th Caucasian Rifles in prepared positions, supported by field artillery and howitzers, with a battalion of the 6th Caucasian Rifles in reserve.” Still, the author provides solid, detailed accounts of incidents such as the disastrous British expedition into Mesopotamia and the even more disastrous landing at Gallipoli. He takes a cold eye to the claims to greatness of T.E. Lawrence—Lawrence of Arabia, that is—whose effectiveness in the field was amplified by a helpful public-relations machine, and who seems a touch petulant whenever he is encountered, certainly less even-keeled than his commander, Gen. Edmund Allenby. Even here, however, Ford is given less to personalities than aggregates: “Two days later Allenby made significant changes to his table of organisation. The cavalry would now become the Desert Mounted Corps, while the infantry was reorganized into XX Corps and XXI Corps.”

A tough slog for anyone without a technical interest in the workings of an army.

Pub Date: May 18, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60598-091-1

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Borderland/Ivan Dee

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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