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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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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