Galvanic, hour-by-hour account that traces the events leading up to and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pennsylvania State Univ. arts-and-humanities professor Weintraub (Victoria, 1987, etc.), who recounted the final days of the Great War in A Stillness Heard Round the World (1985), details how the simultaneous Japanese attacks on American and British forces in the Pacific and Asia suddenly plunged millions into arguably the first truly global conflict. With brief snapshots, he illustrates how both ordinary and powerful people experience the mounting horror in far-flung locales—Washington, Manila, Moscow, Tokyo, Tobruk, Singapore, London, Berlin, and, of course, Hawaii. Cryptographers and junior naval functionaries sense something amiss, only to see their warnings ignored by top brass; an urgent plea for peace from FDR to Hirohito is delayed for ten hours by Japanese warmongers; a group of scientists meet in a coffee shop to discuss the atomic bomb; German forces bog down in the Soviet Union and North Africa; Hitler pops open champagne to celebrate Pearl Harbor, then later takes an ominous step closer to the Final Solution with the ``Night and Fog Decree.'' This structure emphasizes the dizzying speed of events, accurately mirroring the chaos. One caveat: Weintraub's research seems herculean, but his skeletal endnotes list only his primary sources, not secondary sources, for the interested reader. A dazzling example of historical narrative, revealing the almost infinite variety of human responses—courage, fear, intelligence, idiocy, outrage, and sorrow—as the world trembled on the brink of war. (B&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-93344-1

Page Count: 716

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?