The compelling diary of a young man from Manhattan during the Pacific campaign—and one of the few WW II diaries published to date. Kahn (English/University of the Pacific) is 19 when, in 1943, he finds himself en route to Australia, ``anxious to get there and be a part of the telling blow that shall smash the enemy and forever end war.'' Instead, he finds himself part of a dragged-out conflict in which he's subjected to multiple bombings, strafings, torpedo hits, and jungle diseases, including jaundice, malaria, and skin ailments. Convinced he won't survive, Kahn resolves to record everything. He notes sleeping arrangements (``I shall never forget this bed. It is seven feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide. It has a pipe frame...''). He moons over girlfriends, especially one Carolyn, who grows up to be the mystery writer Amanda Cross. He and his buddies get drunk on vanilla extract. He watches a man burn to death. The vagaries of fate dispense life and death (``Three fellows lived in a shack close by. One got up to urinate shortly before the attack. He was saved, the other two got it''). Encountering enemy POWs, he's moved to pity. Nonetheless, when the A-bomb is dropped, he registers no remorse, noting the countless lives that would have been lost in an Allied invasion of Japan. Later, in the eeriest passages here, he finds himself in Yokohama a month after the surrender, selling cigarettes to passersby, visiting a geisha house, observing the wreckage of an empire, trying to put it all together: ``I do not quite comprehend myself and the conflicting myriad feelings of shyness, compassion, unreality, and tension that I have felt all day.'' Kahn makes an ideal diarist: objective, observant, with a spicy dash of introspection. A WW II document of note. (Thirty-one photographs)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-252-01858-3

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Univ. of Illinois

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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