An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor.




Japanese planes appeared over Oahu at 1:25 p.m., Washington time, on Dec. 7, 1941. This superior addition to the snapshot genre of historical writing describes the following 24 hours, ending when FDR delivered his famous “day of infamy” message to Congress.

The History Channel resident historian Gillon (History/Univ. of Oklahoma; The Kennedy Assassination—24 Hours After: Lyndon B. Johnson's Pivotal First Day as President, 2009, etc.) reminds readers that everyone expected war. Having broken Japan’s diplomatic code, American officials knew that morning that Japan’s embassy had been ordered to destroy its code machines. Everyone assumed the Japanese fleet (known to have sailed) would move south to obtain desperately needed oil and natural resources from weakly defended British and Dutch Southeast Asia colonies. A San Francisco Naval station picked up news of the raid and relayed it to Washington, where a flabbergasted FDR received it at 1:47. Gillon paints a vivid picture of the scramble that followed as he summoned his cabinet, aides and Congressional leaders from their Sunday rest. Meetings throughout the day served mostly to agonize over how American forces were caught napping and exchange wild rumors (swastikas on the wings of attacking planes, Japanese troops landing on Hawaii)—as well as to vow revenge. Little useful activity and no important decisions resulted, and Gillon wisely cuts away from the confusion to deliver background information and generous biographies of FDR, Eleanor and a dozen leading figures.

An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-465-02139-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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