A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders, although written with an extreme pro-Soviet tilt.



A comprehensive study of the wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union, as directed by Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

When America entered World War II, the Soviets were fighting for national survival. Stalin desperately needed aid from capitalist America both during and after the war and went to great lengths to please Roosevelt in order to get it. Roosevelt wanted the war to end with the formation of a peacekeeping organization more effective than the League of Nations had been, and he needed both American and Russian participation to achieve this goal. He therefore aimed to draw the previously isolated Soviets into the club of responsible power diplomacy while also acknowledging Russia as an indispensable military ally. Journalist Butler (East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart, 1997, etc.) describes in meticulous detail the proceedings at the Tehran and Yalta conferences, the only times that Roosevelt and Stalin met in person, and shows how the American president, "the glue holding together the alliance," frequently mediated between Stalin and Churchill to keep the allies pulling together. The most striking aspect of the narrative is the portrayal of the big three. Roosevelt appears always as farsighted and sure-footed. Butler clearly loathes Churchill, whom she regards as a racist imperialist "more concerned over preserving Britain's position in Europe than in preserving peace.” Her attempt to claim a moral equivalence between Stalin's rule and British colonial administration is particularly errant. Stalin steps straight out of Soviet propaganda from the 1930s: a wise, perceptive, benign old man. The author asserts that his power rested on charm, not fear; he rehabilitated religion in Russia; he wanted a strong, independent and democratic Poland; he had no intention of imposing communism on European countries by force, and so on. All of this is difficult to credit.

A thorough account of the alliance between two very different leaders, although written with an extreme pro-Soviet tilt.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0307594853

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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