A vivid contribution to media and military history.




War correspondents confront military secrets, tests of loyalty, and constant danger.

Based on published dispatches, memoirs, and archival sources, Casey (International History/London School of Economics; When Soldiers Fall: How Americans Have Confronted Combat Losses from World War I to Afghanistan, 2014, etc.) closely examines the experiences of American journalists who reported from Germany, Italy, and North Africa from 1942 through Germany’s surrender in 1945. The author questions the argument, put forth by other historians, that journalists colluded with the military to disseminate a picture of triumph, airbrushing bloody battle scenes and self-censoring their work so as to bolster support for the war. Excessive media deference, some historians believe, “served to hide everything except the genius of generals and the success of their soldiers.” Casey convincingly argues that reporters were not tools of the military’s public relations offices, drawing on the work of star journalists such as Drew Middleton, Ernie Pyle, and photographer Robert Capa as well as reporters not as well remembered, whose dispatches appeared in daily newspapers and on radio. These men (and a few women) saw themselves as “courageous danger seekers whose rightful place was in the midst of the action,” but they responded in different ways to what they observed and how they conceived their responsibility to the public. All needed to negotiate with the military, which tried to control news stories, while recognizing reporters’ pressure to deliver daily updates. Reporters were circumscribed, also, by considerations other than military strategy: Casey notes “brazen editing” of any stories related to race, for example. White reporters either ignored black issues or “excised” them entirely, helping to obfuscate the military’s blatant segregation. Although the Air Force claimed it attacked only military targets, one intrepid reporter broke the news of the “terror bombing” of civilians, emboldening editors to pursue similar stories. Figures such as Eisenhower and Patton play roles in Casey’s illuminating narrative, but his focus is largely on reporters and their efforts, sometimes heroic, to get the best scoop.

A vivid contribution to media and military history.

Pub Date: April 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-066062-8

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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