CODE-NAME DOWNFALL

THE SECRET PLAN TO INVADE JAPAN--AND WHY TRUMAN DROPPED THE BOMB

This grim and painstaking analysis of plans for operations Olympic and Coronet (the invasions of Kyushu and Honshu) argues that dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a military necessity that hastened the end of WW II and saved possibly millions of Japanese and American lives. Military experts Allen and Polmar (Merchants of Treason, 1988, etc.) build a persuasive case. Though Japanese forces had not won an engagement with the US since the war's first months, and defeat looked increasingly inevitable, the leaders of imperial Japan repeatedly vowed to fight US forces to the last man, woman, and child. The islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, not nearly as well defended as the Japanese home islands, had to be conquered in savage battles that lasted months and resulted in tens of thousands of American casualties. Allied demands for unconditional surrender were not an obstacle to peace, the authors argue; Americans were willing to permit Japan to retain the imperial system and to go on with its normal national life, but Japanese leaders rejected the offer. The morale and zeal of ordinary citizens to carry on the fight were high, even after American firebombings that claimed more lives than the atomic bombs would. The authors describe Olympic and Coronet in ghastly detail, noting that they might have resulted in more than 500,000 American casualties, as well as in the use of chemical and biological weapons by both sides. They conclude that, in making the decision to drop the atomic bombs, ``Truman was looking for ways to end the conflict honorably and at the lowest possible cost in American and Japanese lives.'' (For another look at this period, see Stanley Weintraub, The Last Great Victory, p. 624.) The authors' masterful marshalling of the evidence prompts relief that the invasion of Japan never took place, but it's unlikely to put to rest historical speculation about the morality of Truman's decision. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80406-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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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

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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