Fast-paced, clearly written account of how justice was served in a difficult wartime case.




The truth about the murders of 50 airmen who escaped from a top-security World War II prison camp and how the Third Reich's killers were brought to justice.

Read (War of Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder, 2009, etc.) draws heavily on the British Royal Air Force Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) case files to put together the story of what happened after the events portrayed in the 1963 movie The Great Escape. Supposedly escape-proof in design and construction, Stalag Luft III became the holding pen for a multinational contingent of repeat escapees. Six hundred were involved in organizing the plot intended to free 250 from confinement. Read shows how the escape shocked Hitler and the Nazi security services high command, resulting in a nationwide manhunt for the escapees. The men were summarily executed upon capture and cremated anonymously. The SIB detailed a task force of 21 investigators and 16 translators to track down the killers. They identified 72 members of the Gestapo, SS and Kripo chains of command who played an active part in the murders; of them, 21 were sentenced to death by hanging, 17 to prison terms. (Others had died during the war or committed suicide.) The guilty included fanatics like Wilhelm Scharpwinkel, head of the Breslau Gestapo, and Johannes Post, the deputy Gestapo chief and executioner in Kiel. Read provides an admirable record of the meticulous police work involved in accumulating proof sufficient for prosecution and conviction. The RAF detail started from scratch and had to use many different methods to reconstruct personnel and their units and to identify the 72 found responsible.

Fast-paced, clearly written account of how justice was served in a difficult wartime case.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-425-25273-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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