Valor vs. red tape with the soul of democracy at stake.

SHADOW WARRIORS

INSIDE THE SPECIAL FORCES

The author of megaselling novels in the techno/gung-ho genre (The Bear and the Dragon, 2000, etc.) that he practically invented adds an untimely entry to his body of nonfiction dissections (Every Man a Tiger, 1999, etc.) of what makes our military so great: everything you wanted to know about Special Forces except for Afghanistan.

Teamed this time with a retired former chief of US Special Operations Command, Clancy delves into the origins and evolution of the Special Forces concept. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan get special credit for a relevant grasp of realpolitik: the need for a new kind of force capable of Cold War dirty tricks, counterinsurgencies, and holding terrorists to account for their crimes anywhere in the world. Some action vignettes from SF roots in WWII and Vietnam rival Clancy fiction, but things get bogged down with military trivia as the author and General Stiner interweave narratives (liberally laced with the kind of DOD jargon that makes a ship a “naval platform” and an airplane an “aviation asset”) on the Achille Lauro (hijacked cruise liner) incident, “taking down” Noriega's Panama, and other actions. The central theme is a somewhat predictable one of guys in the field taking heat, or worse, because Washington never quite gets it. For example, only after Vietnam, when the Pentagon finally allows that the standard US ground soldier is frighteningly inept at forging good relations with “friendlies,” does that become a top SF training priority. Also well documented is the depth and breadth of opposition to any concept of elite units by mainstream military commanders who tend to see Special Ops planners as “princes of darkness” out to rob the “Big Army” of budget and resources. Obviously caught with the book already in the publishing pipeline when the 2001 War on Terrorism was declared, Clancy awkwardly tacks on a final chapter to cover repercussions of September 11 (but not including any military operations in Afghanistan), which adds nothing original either in his analysis of the Al Qaeda brand of terrorism or proposed countermeasures.

Valor vs. red tape with the soul of democracy at stake.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14783-7

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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