The style is traditional, even stodgy, while the discoveries may be revolutionary in World War I historiography.

READ REVIEW

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE

MYTH, MEMORY, AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR

A doctoral candidate and senior paralegal debuts with a sharp look at the so-called “Christmas truce” of 1914, discovering that distortion has colored many accounts of it—and of World War I itself.

In a text adapted from her master’s thesis, Crocker displays some things clearly. First, she did an enormous amount of work for that degree, reading countless books, newspaper accounts, diaries, and letters of those involved (almost entirely those of the English military) and watching films (documentary and otherwise) that involve the celebrated truce. Second, she did sufficiently transform the organization and tone from a graduate school exercise. She retains the well-used format of introduction-body-conclusion; she provides far more examples for each of her points than is necessary; she repeats and summarizes too much; her attitude remains generally detached and scholarly. Still, Crocker has created a work perhaps powerful enough to alter the conventional narrative of the incident. She destroys a number of misconceptions. Discovering considerable newspaper coverage from late 1914 and even into 1915, she demonstrates with great clarity that the soldiers involved were generally not dissuaded from socializing with the enemy by their commanding officers (and there were no punishments in the aftermath), proving with ample evidence that the combatants involved (on the English side) were not using the informal truces up and down the trenches to engage in some sort of anti-war protest. The author also expands her scope to show that the current dominant story of World War I—that incompetent commanders sent waves of young men to the slaughterhouse and that the entire war was not only ill-fought, but was a principal cause of World War II—is based more on tradition and myth than on fact. A storm of debate will no doubt ensue.

The style is traditional, even stodgy, while the discoveries may be revolutionary in World War I historiography.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8131-6615-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more