An earnest reflection on war and peace from a commander’s unique point of view.




Leadership lessons from a life of war and peace.

Clark (Winning Modern Wars, 2003, etc.) has been many things during his adventurous life, including a Rhodes Scholar, a four-star Army general and an ardent presidential candidate. In this spare but engaging autobiography, he recounts his evolution from a struggling Arkansas youth with a speech defect to a military man and respected strategist who led troops at home and abroad. To the book’s detriment, much of it is couched as a leadership manual; even the valid lessons smack of management coaching vernacular and are often superfluous to the events at hand. Fortunately, the events themselves make fascinating reading. Clark begins with a terse, visceral account of a bloody ambush in the jungles of Vietnam. The easy choice would be to glorify his military experience, but the book’s vivid descriptions of his hazardous duties are understated and candid, whether he’s recalling a failed attempt to rescue soldiers from a burning convoy while under fire or limning the treacherous political minefields of Washington. Another tense stretch came during Clark’s posting in Kosovo, where he played a life-and-death game of chicken with Yugoslavian president Slobodon Milosevic and raced the Russians to capture Priština International Airport. Clark’s willingness to admit tactical failures is admirable, and his strategic insights are piercing yet clear-cut. “Only soldiers win battles,” he writes. “The top leaders can lose by making mistakes, but the winning is done by the troops, by their skill, cunning, discipline, intuition, and motivation.” His measured criticisms of America’s approach to problems in Africa and the Middle East are equally cogent, delivered in the careful language of a political platform and drawing strongly upon his personal vision for American intervention and diplomacy in the world’s conflict zones: “pushing for the United States to do what was right, not just what was easy.”

An earnest reflection on war and peace from a commander’s unique point of view.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4039-8474-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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