An exciting, elegantly rendered overview, simultaneously narrating the grandiose theories and the smaller human dramas of...

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AT WAR AT SEA

SAILORS AND NAVAL WARFARE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

A comprehensive examination of naval warfare’s rapid and decisive transformations.

Spector (After Tet, 1992), a Marine veteran of Vietnam, demonstrates both academic fervor and hard-won passion. He begins with an intimate account of Tsushima, the climactic 1905 encounter between Japanese and Russian fleets that promoted the “all-dreadnought” navy and spawned an arms race among European powers to construct these enormous, heavily armored battleships. Yet, paradoxically, large-scale encounters between dreadnought fleets were rare in WWI, as German forces pursued “unrestricted” submarine warfare. Early conflicts in WWII contradicted previous theories, as when British defenders in Crete suffered heavy ship losses from Nazi dive-bombing tactics. The Pacific battles of 1942 confirmed the primacy of carriers over battleships: At Midway and Santa Cruz, American and Japanese fortunes shifted frequently, at horrific cost, demonstrating that “it was not technical but human problems that were most critical.” Simultaneously, the Battle of the Atlantic confirmed that U-boat warfare could be countered by aggressive convoy actions, which gave Nazi submariners the war’s highest casualty rates. While much of Spector’s commentary concerns intricate strategic matters, he wisely relies on dramatic eyewitness accounts, as when an Enterprise crewmember recalls a “dive bomber coming right at our guns. He released his bomb and it had my name on it flashing like a neon light.” Chapters such as “My Grave Shall Be the Sea” explore bizarre naval traditions, epitomized by such harsh oddities as the Japanese Kamikaze corps (for whose shabbily treated teenagers landing lessons were deemed unnecessary). Later chapters primarily address the American navy’s difficulty in adapting to Cold War scenarios, as in the maligned river-warfare campaigns of Vietnam.

An exciting, elegantly rendered overview, simultaneously narrating the grandiose theories and the smaller human dramas of men who fought under absurdly difficult conditions.

Pub Date: May 7, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-86085-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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