WHEN THE STARS WENT TO WAR

HOLLYWOOD AND WORLD WAR II

Nostalgia reigns in this account of how the film industry responded to WW II. Hoopes (Ralph Ingersoll, 1985, etc.), Washington bureau chief of Modern Maturity, has written extensively on the ``good old days,'' and his latest effort is in the same vein of mildly revisionist memorabilia. Even before the start of the war, some members of of Hollywood's acting community—notably the British and progressive-minded Jews—were already alert to the dangers posed by the Nazis, and it is with these farsighted individuals that Hoopes begins his chronicle. Vienna-born actor Helmut Dantine, for example, spent three months in a concentration camp as a result of his anti-Nazi activism before coming to America. After Pearl Harbor, however, the entire filmmaking community pitched in eagerly with bond drives, USO tours, and enlistments. ``In many ways, World War II was Hollywood's finest hour,'' Hoopes asserts. ``Just about every male star not in the service went on at least one USO tour; among actresses, participation was close to 100 percent.'' (A notable exception was Greta Garbo.) Although the reaction of the industry to the war is a potentially fascinating story, and Hoopes has some splendid anecdotes, this book suffers from a warmed-over feeling. The first and biggest problem is Hoopes's working method: By his own admission, the entire book was gleaned from secondary sources, most of them movie-star autobiographies—not notably reliable sources of information. As a result, where two reports of events conflict, Hoopes merely repeats both versions and leaves it to readers to decide who is telling the truth; and where a star is not forthcoming about his war record, Robert Montgomery for instance, Hoopes offers silence. This is just lazy reporting. Finally, although the book is organized in a loose chronology, it has no real structure, and meanders aimlessly, if amiably, from anecdote to anecdote. A disappointing failure to explore a rich topic.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-41423-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1994

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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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