A vivid history of the long campaign against the Dragon’s Jaw Bridge; especially recommended for aficionados of air warfare.



The detailed story of American pilots’ attempts to destroy a key bridge during the Vietnam War.

Bestselling novelist and decorated Navy aviator Coonts (The Armageddon File, 2017, etc.) teams up with air warfare historian Tillman (On Wave and Wing: The 100 Year Quest to Perfect the Aircraft Carrier, 2017, etc.) for an account that looks well past its nominal subject to give a wide-ranging history of the Vietnam War in the air. The Thanh Hoa bridge, completed in 1964, got the name “Dragon’s Jaw” from the rock formations on which it was built. Carrying a highway and a railroad line, it was a strategic transportation link as well as a matter of national pride for North Vietnam. As such, the bridge became an important target for American forces. But its robust construction—and the defensive measures around it—made it an infuriatingly resistant target. The authors detail one assault after another, listing pilots killed or captured in the attempt and providing the stories of those who attacked it without success. Coonts’ novelistic skills make the set pieces compelling, and attentive readers will get an education in the evolving technology of air warfare and anti-aircraft defense. The narrative is especially memorable for its account of the naval aviators who launched their attacks from carriers, many of whom are quoted at length. The authors also draw on North Vietnamese records, though with a degree of skepticism. At the same time, they are scathing in their attack on American leaders, especially Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara, for their failure to press the air war as hard as they might have out of fear of bringing Chinese troops into the conflict. Several bombing halts gave the North time to build up its forces and launch offensives. In the end, advances in weaponry gave the bombers the edge they needed to bring down the bridge—though it took years of relentless attacks and the loss of numerous planes and pilots to do so.

A vivid history of the long campaign against the Dragon’s Jaw Bridge; especially recommended for aficionados of air warfare.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-306-90347-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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