This story of Byrd’s accomplishments is for those professionals who appreciate Bart’s fastidious attention to navigation...

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RACE TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD

RICHARD BYRD AND THE FIRST FLIGHT TO THE NORTH POLE

Naval aviator Richard Byrd (1888–1957) was a born explorer, but he was no daredevil. American Polar Society governor Bart (Beatrice: The Untold Story of a Legendary Woman of Mystery, 1998) is the authority on Byrd, and his biography is as detailed as Byrd’s own preparations for his expeditions.

The author closely examines the navigational methods used by Byrd, particularly the equipment he developed that changed navigation out of sight of land forever. He is one of the few authors to actually explain to us landlubbers how the sextant works. Byrd’s proficient use of Bumstead’s sun compass, his own bubble sextant and wind drift indicator ensured that he was the best aeronautical navigator around at the time. He was part of the 1925 MacMillan Arctic Expedition. Plagued by the unpredictable and usually unforgiving weather, the expedition fell short of its overreaching goals when the adventurers ran out of time. Eventually, Byrd launched his own expedition, backed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Edsel Ford. He planned to fly over the North Pole from Norway with a plane designed by the Flying Dutchman, Anthony Fokker. Byrd was not the only one striving to be the first to fly over the pole, however. Norwegian Roald Amundsen was depending on an Italian-made dirigible to fly from the same spot over the pole, the polar sea and the landmass that most felt existed beneath the ice.

This story of Byrd’s accomplishments is for those professionals who appreciate Bart’s fastidious attention to navigation methods and preparations necessary for explorative treks. For the rest of us, the book is an easy read if you are able to skim through the considerable details.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-082-0

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Regnery History

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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