An august contribution to the city-during-a-war genre, worthy to sit alongside such classics as Margaret Leech’s Reveille in...

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BERLIN AT WAR

A superb addition to the social history of Nazi Germany.

British historian Moorhouse (Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death, 2006, etc.) begins with a vivid description of Berlin in April 1939, as the city celebrated Hitler’s 50th birthday, a massive, elaborately choreographed festivity featuring a five-hour military parade during which Hitler mostly remained standing. The author then jumps ahead to Germany’s invasion of Poland, an announcement greeted with no enthusiasm whatsoever from Berliners who remembered the terrible privations of 1914–’18. Using interviews, letters, journals, memoirs and archives, the author provides an absorbing account of daily life, as Berliners were less concerned about the Reich’s glories than the fate of their men at the front and preoccupied by shortages of fuel, food and clothes. Bombing raids began in 1940, producing little damage but serious morale problems as working Berliners complained bitterly of sleepless nights in bomb shelters. They paid little attention to nearly 500,000 foreign laborers who worked under conditions varying from tolerable to those of concentration-camp inmates (who also worked in the city). A few showed concern for the Jews, but readers will squirm as Moorhouse recounts how they were harassed, starved, robbed, ejected from their apartments and finally marched off to be killed. Other disturbing chapters recount the story of Berlin’s anti-Nazi opposition (generally disastrous), the trials of Jews who tried to escape deportation by going underground (some succeeded) and the increasing deterioration of city life after 1943 as bombing intensified.

An august contribution to the city-during-a-war genre, worthy to sit alongside such classics as Margaret Leech’s Reveille in Washington (1941) and Ernest Furgurson’s Ashes of Glory (1996).

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-00533-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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...

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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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