A comprehensive survey of the worldwide conflict that defined the role of air power in modern warfare. The years leading up to WW II were marked by apocalyptic fears of poison gas dropping from the skies, a distorted image spread by Western politicians and exploited by Germany, Italy, and Japan, according to aviation historian Boyne (Air Force Eagles, 1992), a retired US Air Force colonel and former director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Boyne covers every theater of the air war, from the lopsided struggle between the Luftwaffe and the overmatched Polish Air Force in September 1939 to the atomic destruction rained down by the US on Japan nearly six years later. His observations on each country's use of its air force are concise and sharp. He finds, for instance, that Germany and Japan did not step up plane production in the early stage of the war, allowing the Allies time to catch up, and that the surprisingly good Italian pilots were badly served by incompetent commanders. Boyne demonstrates just how narrowly Allied victory came in the Battle of Britain, masterfully explains the critical role of air power at Midway and Guadalcanal, and sheds new light on how the Soviet air force, its top brass devastated by Stalin's purges, pulled itself together in time for the Battle of Stalingrad. One caveat: While Boyne convincingly sets out why the Allies were forced to use area bombing rather than more humane precision bombing in their 1944-45 raids on Germany, he lamely dismisses criticism of that campaign's morality—this despite the fact that Britain's Gen. Arthur ``Bomber'' Harries was nicknamed ``Butch'' (short for ``Butcher'') by his own troops for his profligate use of their lives. An often tart, consistently incisive analysis of how the Allies, through trial, error, and anguish, achieved their winged victory.

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-79370-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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...


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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