FORTRESS AMERICA

THE AMERICAN MILITARY AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF PEACE

A journalistic look at the primary post-Soviet threat to the American military. Greider (One World, Ready or Not, 1996, etc.) thrives on saying the emperor has no clothes, and his knack for pointing out the obvious but unseen means only those who consciously avert their eyes can pretend nothing is amiss. He argues here that America’s military-industrial complex is in a state of denial about the end of the Cold War, and that “the status quo in national defense is not going to survive” unless decision-makers confront reality. Instead of the demobilization that has followed previous conflicts, military, political, and industrial leaders are acting as if current budget reductions represent a temporary squeeze rather than a new norm. Rather than give up new weapons systems the Pentagon cuts training and personnel costs, leaving the warriors and their machines “competing with each other for the money.” Rather than admit that the economy Reagan built on defense spending no longer exists and face the political pain of base closings, politicians drain the budget to keep open barely utilized facilities. Rather than rethink and retool the weapons industry, huge factories operate at a fraction of their capacity. But the contradictions between these policies and the political and financial pressures of a post—Cold War budget cannot be sustained indefinitely, and without rethinking priorities, the ability of the military itself to function will be undermined. Greider’s observation while perusing a seemingly endless line of military hardware now parked and waiting for a conflict in Europe that did not happen captures the problem: what do we do “now that a general peace is upon us? We don’t know the answer. We don’t even want to talk about it.” Perhaps this honest glimpse of an untenable situation will start a conversation. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-891620-09-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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