A welcome study of an aspect of wartime history that is little known among those too young to have experienced it.



Social history of the American homefront in the early months of World War II, a time of profound uncertainty and anxiety.

As Klingaman (The First Century: Emperors, Gods and Everyman, 2008, etc.) observes at the beginning of his vigorous narrative, the Christmas season of 1941 opened with considerable promise. The Great Depression had lifted, expanded defense spending had created a thriving job market, and “fur coats seemed to be everywhere.” There were warning signs, including a silk shortage caused by uneasiness over events in Asia, and war had been raging in Europe for more than two years, but Americans tended to ignore those events and to advocate staying out of the war. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed all that, provoking a military response and domestic measures that would themselves become infamous, such as the internment of Japanese-Americans. The author is good at teasing out small but telling details—e.g., the fact that college enrollments, not high to begin with ("the number of adults without even one year of formal education nearly equaled the number of college graduates”) dropped dramatically because of the draft and the ever expanding armaments industry, which demanded workers. He also delivers entertaining anecdotes along the way, such as a unit of Confederate veterans, all over 90 years old, declaring war on Japan even as inmates of San Quentin requested knitting lessons so that they could make sweaters and hats for soldiers. Yet Klingaman’s narrative is marked by dark moments and the birth of trends, some of which persist today, such as the militarization of society and a rightward turn in politics, evidenced by such things as popular support for drafting any defense worker who went on strike for better pay or working conditions—to say nothing of racist incidents against African-Americans who had moved north and west to seek such jobs.

A welcome study of an aspect of wartime history that is little known among those too young to have experienced it.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13317-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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