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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...


A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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