Sheds welcome light on a little-known historical event and on the role of conscientious objectors in WWII.




Workmanlike account of a scientific study on the effects of starvation on the human body and mind, conducted in Minnesota in 1944 and 1945.

Tucker (Notre Dame vs. the Klan, not reviewed) interviewed more than a dozen of the study’s participants, as well as its director, Dr. Ancel Keys. Perhaps best known as the developer of the army’s K ration, Keys sought to discover how to most effectively rehabilitate populations that had starved during WWII. To accomplish this, he turned to the Selective Service System, operators of the Civilian Public Service to which conscientious objectors were then assigned. Young pacifists who volunteered to be his guinea pigs were brought to the Laboratory of Physical Hygiene, located under the football stadium at the University of Minnesota. From among them, Keys selected 36 fit young men. Tucker focuses on the stories of three—Max Kampleman, Sam Legg and Henry Scholberg—but includes anecdotes about others who struggled through the rigorous year-long program. In the first three months, their weight was normalized. For the next six months, they were put on starvation diets that reduced their body weight by 25 percent. Then, for the final three months, they were rehabilitated, using several methods chosen by Keys. In addition to describing the study’s methodology and documenting the men’s physical decline, the author has elicited from his interviewees accounts of their feelings, obsessions and nightmares, showing the psychological effects of starvation as well. As background, he includes gruesome details of famine in Leningrad and the starvation of prisoners at Buchenwald. Keys’s study was not completed before the war ended, thus limiting its usefulness for relief workers designing nutritional programs to rehabilitate Europe’s starving populations. It remains, however, a seminal work on human starvation. Given the ethical constraints imposed on such experiments by the postwar Nuremberg Code and the 1964 Helsinki Declaration, Tucker concludes that nothing like it can ever be done again.

Sheds welcome light on a little-known historical event and on the role of conscientious objectors in WWII.

Pub Date: May 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-7432-7030-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet