THE WAR WITHIN

AMERICA'S BATTLE OVER VIETNAM

Immense, painstakingly researched, painfully engrossing account of how the battle on America's home front ended its longest and least popular war. Wells (formerly Univ. of San Francisco, Mills College) makes clear at the outset where he stands on the historical issue of the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement; he has ``made no effort to conceal'' his opposition to U.S. intervention in Vietnam. Moreover, he argues that the antiwar movement was no marginal phenomenon. Because American warmongers took it seriously (particularly Richard Nixon after Lyndon Johnson was driven from office), it had a pervasive effect on the war effort itself, among other things compelling President Nixon to ``phase out'' the draft and ``Vietnamize'' the war. In addition, Nixon's lack of understanding of the antiwar movement led him to try to suppress opposition so ruthlessly (often employing provocateurs and other dirty tricks) that he overreached and eventually toppled from office. Wells discusses the internecine conflicts among antiwar activists and the leftist polarization of many in the movement as the war dragged on and as many, formerly moderate opponents of the war came to the conclusion that revolution was necessary to end it. While the movement's diversity was its strength as it expanded from a radical fringe into a mainstream political force, internal strife among religious groups, Trotskyites, and others that shared little more than opposition to American war aims split the movement apart. Although the coalition splintered and seemed ultimately to founder, Wells concludes that the antiwar movement's long-term contributions to American democracy, as well as to ending the war itself, were substantial. A balanced, absorbing, tragic narrative of the massive groundswell of popular revulsion that eventually thwarted the directors of America's war in Southeast Asia. (47 b&w photographs- -not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-520-08367-9

Page Count: 650

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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