NOTHING LESS THAN VICTORY

THE ORAL HISTORY OF D-DAY

Relying on correspondence, diaries, and interviews, Miller (The House of Getty, not reviewed) presents vivid first-person perspectives from British, German, and American combatants in the Allied invasion of Normandy. The greatest movement of men and materiel in history, the invasion was a grand strategic achievement that signaled the end of Hitler's ambitions in the West and the beginning of the final campaign of WW II. However, the ordinary soldiers, whether British, American, or German, saw little of the strategy; for them, ``D-Day was nothing but fear, confusion, noise, muddle, chaos, hysteria and horror interspersed with flashes of heroism and humor.'' Miller gives the impressions of British women and children interacting for the first time with ``Yanks'' and, on the other side of the English Channel, the thoughts of French civilians on the German occupiers; he lets British commandos tell of their reconnaissance missions to the Normandy beaches; and he relates the intelligence battles between the Allies and Germans and the sometimes cordial, sometimes tense relationships between British and American officers planning the invasion. Soldiers reminisce about the boredom and fear felt during the long wait, the 24-hour postponement of the battle, and the tense Channel crossing. Most compelling of all, however, is the terrifying story of the storming of the beaches—especially the nightmarish Omaha and Utah beaches, where American soldiers took fearful losses from German artillery before wiping out the German fortifications—and the Allied battle inland. After the landings, Miller records Allied confusion, as British and American soldiers tried to consolidate their victory, and German despair as both officers and soldiers began to realize the war was lost. Riveting soldier's-eye views of the deadly confusion of battle, and a significant contribution to military and D-day literature.

Pub Date: June 6, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-10209-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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