A useful introduction to the history of chiefs of distaff and other women at arms.

HELL HATH NO FURY

TRUE STORIES OF WOMEN AT WAR FROM ANTIQUITY TO IRAQ

A comprehensive tour of battlefields ancient and modern in which women have fought alongside men.

What makes women want to fight in war? Write historical novelist Miles (The Lady of the Sea, 2004, etc.) and historian Cross (The Battle of Kursk: Operation Citadel 1943, 2005, etc.), “A better question would be, why shouldn’t they?” The Celtic queen Boudica didn’t let her gender get in the way when she destroyed a few Roman legions, nor did Tomoe Gozen, the female samurai, whom Japanese chronicles call “a warrior worth a thousand.” There’s not much sociology in these pages, but there’s plenty of righteous carnage. Anne Frank figures as a warrior of a kind, but so too does Hermine Braunsteiner, the “Stamping Mare,” a sadistic SS guard at the Ravensbrück concentration camp and the “first Nazi war criminal to be extradited from the United States to Germany.” The authors write carefully of Jessica Lynch, the prisoner made into a “broad-brush, ‘feel-good’ item to cheer American audiences at home” at the onset of the Iraq War, while not excluding the infamous Lynndie England (of Abu Ghraib fame), there beside Braunsteiner in the hall of shame. “Nevertheless,” they add, “it must be said that the Bush administration, requiring a scapegoat for its colossal strategic misjudgment in Iraq, attempted to use England and her colleagues to bear the moral burden for its war.” The cast of characters numbers in the hundreds, and many will be little known to general readers, from the martyred Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya to women Viet Cong fighters to British spymaster Stella Rimington and Louise Michel, the fierce “Red Virgin” of the Paris Commune.

A useful introduction to the history of chiefs of distaff and other women at arms.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-34637-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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