Military historian Boyne (Clash of Wings, 1994, etc.) offers a general account of the naval engagements fought from 1939 to 1945. In the author's view, the Treaty of Versailles and the Washington Naval Disarmament Conference of 192122 lulled the Western allies into a false sense of security while Japan and Nazi Germany secretly built huge machines of war that enabled them, when hostilities began, to overwhelm the weak and obsolete defenses of their victims. Boyne stresses the rise of naval air power and fast carriers as weapons in WW II and the decline of the battleship as the most important factor in naval warfare. However, he argues, carriers were vulnerable to both air and submarine attacks, requiring much protection from other ships in battle. After suffering grievously in the early years of the war, Britain and the US mobilized their resources of innovation, leadership ability, production, and organization to outclass their enemies on the sea. For instance, the Allies broke the secret codes of Japan and Germany; Axis commanders never figured out why their ``surprise attacks'' were often met with Allied units in place and prepared for battle. Boyne praises the high professional standards of American naval officers, as well as the courage and fighting abilities of American and British sailors and fliers, and offers detailed accounts of Japanese barbarism. In the end, Boyne argues, the Allied naval victory was a ``tribute to the same democratic system that had allowed the conditions for war to occur in the first place'' by failing to stop Axis aggression in its nascent stages. An engrossing narrative, not overburdened with detail, and a perceptive analysis of the vital victory at sea for the Western democracies.

Pub Date: June 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80196-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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...


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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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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