A well-researched work offering new understanding of the pact’s pertinence to this day.



Placing the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact squarely at the center of Soviet-German belligerence before the outbreak of World War II.

English historian Moorhouse (Berlin at War, 2010, etc.) finds that the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact of August 1939—with its “secret protocol” to carve up Poland and the Baltic states—is not well-understood in the West and is still rationalized by “communist apologists” today. The pact, which lasted less than two years and ended with Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, indeed “turned the political world upside down,” as it created bedfellows between two sworn enemies who had long denounced the other as attempting world domination. Hitler had gained power by railing against the “Jewish Bolshevist plague,” while Stalin had decried German expansionism in the East since the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. Moorhouse nimbly shows how this cynical alliance came about: Hitler needed to guard his eastern flank in his expansion into Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia were rich in minerals and industry), and intractable Poland could not be brought around without force; moreover, an alliance with the resources-rich Soviet Union would feed Hitler’s war. The author attempts to clarify Stalin’s rationale in pushing for this pact as not simply being a defensive move or a way of buying time until the Soviets were prepared for war. Rather, it was a “passive-aggressive” grab at territory and power, a chance to “set world-historical forces in motion” and thumb his nose at Western imperialist powers. The impact was huge, as 75 million people were affected by the newly designated borders, causing massive deportations and purges and creating parallel (and collaborative) systems of terror and repression by the NKVD and the Nazi SS. Moorhouse offers a thorough delineation of the characters involved, as well as the extraordinary contortions each side exercised in order to justify the malevolent agreement.

A well-researched work offering new understanding of the pact’s pertinence to this day.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0465030750

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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