An astute examination by an expert war historian that sifts through the collective “theatres of attrition” in this...

THE WAR OF ATTRITION

FIGHTING THE FIRST WORLD WAR

A rigorous look at the grinding war machine involved in the making of the Great War, both at home and on the battlefield.

Author of the authoritative Three Armies of the Somme (2010), Philpott (War Studies/ King’s Coll., London) plunges into the complicated factors that allowed the war of attrition, which had been used effectively since ancient times, to “come into its own” during World War I. The clash of the powerful industrialized armies created a three-year stalemate within the trenches of the western front in France, rather than a swift, decisive victory anticipated by the Central Powers by Christmas 1914. As such, the fighting required the strategic coordination of four other “fronts” in order to defeat the enemy: the maritime front, whereby Britain and Germany would contest superiority of the seas, most effectively through economic blockade; the home front, encompassing raw material resources and maintaining the wills of the populations to support the war; the diplomatic front, involving war and peace negotiations, including the introduction of President Woodrow Wilson’s appeals to “peace without victory” in 1917; and the “united front”—i.e., the ability of the cohorts to work together, as the Allies managed to do more effectively than the Central Powers. Philpott looks at how each engaged country addressed each front, from the shift from short-term thinking to long-term slog, as the old-style generals were learning that, as British Secretary for War John Seeley noted, “the armies have outgrown the brains of the people who direct them.” The author also addresses the “essential and practical” construction of the trench systems; the diversion of war materiel to the Middle East to fight Turkey, which was allied with Germany; and the manipulation of press and propaganda while mobilizing manpower and morale.

An astute examination by an expert war historian that sifts through the collective “theatres of attrition” in this unprecedented slaughter.

Pub Date: May 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0268-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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