Weintraub expertly delineates the unraveling disaster for the entrapped, frozen, dispirited troops on the ground.




The tragic tale of how the arrogance of a general led to disastrous consequences for the American troops in North Korea in 1950.

“Home by Christmas” was Gen. MacArthur’s precipitous forecast to President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. troops stationed in the mountains of North Korea during that first bitter winter of the Korean War. Prolific historian and Korean War veteran Weintraub (Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR’s Introduction to War, Politics, and Life, 2012, etc.) concentrates on the incongruous movement of two enemy armies: The United Nations forces (most of which were American, under MacArthur’s leadership) had been divided after the invasion at Inchon in September, with the Eighth Army moving up the west coast and the newly created X Corps having sailed all the way around South Korea to land on the east coast well above the 38th Parallel, despite the warning by the Chinese. The North Koreans and their Chinese helpers, under the brilliant direction of Mao Zedong, who was amassing his troops at the Manchurian border, secretly slipped across the Yalu River by night. MacArthur’s initial success at Inchon had allowed him carte blanche in subsequently directing the U.N. effort, though he was stationed in Tokyo and only occasionally flew in and around Korea, usually boasting to reporters. Determined to unify the country, ignoring intelligence sources that reported Chinese movement toward the border, and confident in his public relations coup to bring home the troops by Christmas, MacArthur, with his “diminishing reserves of shrewdness” and “disproportionate ego,” was sure that he “could not be wrong.” The general was abetted by his yes men, such as Edward “Ned” Almond of the X Corps, and passive acceptance by Truman.

Weintraub expertly delineates the unraveling disaster for the entrapped, frozen, dispirited troops on the ground.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0306822322

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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