Wartime adventure draped with thrills and romance. (b&w photos)



Television journalist Smith retells a rousing story of WWII resistance to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, with emphasis on the American players.

The events he chronicles took place on Negros Island, the fourth largest in the Philippines. In addition to its Filipino population, the island housed a number of American missionaries, sugar plantation managers, educators, and businessmen, most of whom retreated into the mountainous interior after the Japanese occupied the seaside towns. Smith delves into their backgrounds, explaining how they came to be in the Philippines, then describes how a good number of these men, along with escaped American POWs, joined the resistance forces carrying out hit-and-run operations against the Japanese. It didn’t take long for the occupying forces to start reprisals, with a vengeance, and the evacuation of noncombatants was undertaken at great risk to them and to the submarine crew of the USS Crevalle. In a parallel story, Japanese plans for the “Decisive Battle” of the Pacific had fallen into the hands of James Cushing, an American leader of the resistance movement on the Philippine island of Cebu, and these too had to be picked up by the submarine. Smith sets a gentle course for the early pages, providing a wealth of biographical details to give readers a stake in the story, then gets pumping when the action starts in earnest. The writing is trim and unornamented, at times resembling that of a not-so-true adventure magazine (Cushing’s “exploits were the stuff of legend”), but this works fine for the stirring events at hand. Smith closes with the Battle of the Philippines Sea, giving readers a sense of the importance of the Crevalle’s cargo.

Wartime adventure draped with thrills and romance. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: May 18, 2001

ISBN: 0-471-41291-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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