A seasoned historian delivers a fluently readable history.

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THE LONGEST YEAR

AMERICA AT WAR AND AT HOME IN 1944

A clearly delineated thesis that examines the decisive battles in turning back the Axis powers of World War II.

Using comparative examples of the Union-won battles that shattered the Confederacy in 1864, Brooks (Education and Counseling/Villanova Univ.; Hell Is Upon Us: D-Day in the Pacific, 2005, etc.) finds in the long months of 1944 the important battles that would eventually defeat the Germans and the Japanese in turn, including the iconic Operation Overlord in Normandy and the equally important, less-well-known campaign of arduous Pacific island-hopping to dislodge the Japanese imperial army in the Marianas, Operation Forager. As a historian who delights in relaying his research and expertise, Brooks unravels the story with accessible detail for lay readers so that his work feels less like a history lesson than a suspenseful drama. The squabbles among the top military high command—a wonderful clash of brash male personalities, including that of the president himself—eventually gave way to some sound decisions. In discrete, tidy chapters Brooks takes one chronological portion of the “longest year” and breaks it down: the January attack on “the soft underbelly of Europe” via the Italian beaches at Anzio and Nettuno; the beginning destruction of the German aircraft industry and control of the skies in preparation for Operation Overlord over the “Big Week” of aerial dogfights in February; the “invasion” of the Yanks in Britain in preparation for Overlord and the massive launch in June; and the hugely costly campaigns on the Pacific islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, which were met by the stunning surge of suicidal imperial warriors. While the taking of Paris and “redemption” at Leyte, Philippines, crowned the year, the Germans and Japanese proved they were still not down for the count.

A seasoned historian delivers a fluently readable history.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63144-023-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Carrel/Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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