VIETNAM

paper 0-8131-0966-3 A concise, analytical survey of Vietnamese military history that concentrates on the French and American 20th-century wars. Former US Army captain Tucker (Military History/Virginia Military Institute) presents a readable, fact-filled examination of the military history of Vietnam. He begins with a brief history of the Southeast Asian nation, starting with its legendary founding in the third century b.c. Tucker clearly shows that the dominant feature of Vietnam’s first thousand years was nationalist rebellion against Chinese domination. Tucker offers detailed examinations of the French colonization of Vietnam and the 1946—1954 French Indochina War—two areas that most American Vietnam War histories treat perfunctorily at best. His treatment of the American war takes up more than half the book. Tucker sticks mainly to military matters in his analysis of that controversial, highly political war. He makes a case that, from the beginning, the American military strategy was flawed because it focused on conventional warfare and paid too little attention to counterinsurgency. The “inability” of the American military establishment “to forecast the [guerrilla] military threat” in the late 1950s “was the first great US military mistake in Vietnam,” he says. Tucker strongly criticizes commanding general William Westmoreland and “officials in Washington”—especially President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger—for drastically underestimating the will of the North Vietnamese. Westmoreland’s attrition strategy, Tucker says, was particularly ill suited against “the Communist strategy of protracted warfare.” Tucker uses a good deal of statistical information throughout this well-documented book. A military historian’s approach to Vietnam’s wars. (maps, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8131-2121-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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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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At nearly 1,000 pages, Chernow delivers a deeply researched, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know biography, but few readers...

GRANT

A massive biography of the Civil War general and president, who “was the single most important figure behind Reconstruction.”

Most Americans know the traditional story of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885): a modest but brutal general who pummeled Robert E. Lee into submission and then became a bad president. Historians changed their minds a generation ago, and acclaimed historian Chernow (Washington: A Life, 2010, etc.), winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, goes along in this doorstop of a biography, which is admiring, intensely detailed, and rarely dull. A middling West Point graduate, Grant performed well during the Mexican War but resigned his commission, enduring seven years of failure before getting lucky. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the only West Point graduate in the area, so local leaders gave him a command. Unlike other Union commanders, he was aggressive and unfazed by setbacks. His brilliant campaign at Vicksburg made him a national hero. Taking command of the Army of the Potomac, he forced Lee’s surrender, although it took a year. Easily elected in 1868, he was the only president who truly wanted Reconstruction to work. Despite achievements such as suppressing the Ku Klux Klan, he was fighting a losing battle. Historian Richard N. Current wrote, “by backing Radical Reconstruction as best he could, he made a greater effort to secure the constitutional rights of blacks than did any other President between Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson.” Recounting the dreary scandals that soiled his administration, Chernow emphasizes that Grant was disastrously lacking in cynicism. Loyal to friends and susceptible to shady characters, he was an easy mark, and he was fleeced regularly throughout his life. In this sympathetic biography, the author continues the revival of Grant’s reputation.

At nearly 1,000 pages, Chernow delivers a deeply researched, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know biography, but few readers will regret the experience. For those seeking a shorter treatment, turn to Josiah Bunting’s Ulysses S. Grant (2004).

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59420-487-6

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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