A very personal, easy-to-follow memoir of everyday lives during a time of war.


In her second memoir, Gunther (Papa Said, 2012) tells of the good and bad parts of her service in the Navy WAVES during World War II.

After one of her brothers enlisted in the Army, the author, then named Winona Ruth Anderson, was determined to join the military and care for the wounded: “I had to do something for the war effort. I wanted to serve my country,” she writes, in her simple, straightforward style. She found a place as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy’s Women’s Reserve, also known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and was quickly dubbed “Andy” by her fellow corpsmen, as well as her patients. Stationed at a naval hospital in California, she saw the horrors of badly wounded soldiers who’d been shipped back home—and, like everybody else during the war, she learned to make the best of what was available: “Those who were burned and jumped into the salty ocean healed better than those who didn’t,” she notes. “We were taught…to soak a sheet in saltwater and wrap a burn patient in it until he could be transported to a hospital.” But not all the stories that Gunther chooses to tell are so grim. She also effectively describes the camaraderie and friendships she had with other young WAVES and their male counterparts. She eventually stumbled into what would become the love of her life with Navy specialist Herb Gunther—but he was Catholic and she was Protestant, and Herb’s priest said that he’d go straight to hell for marrying outside the church. Gunther focuses on their struggles to build a life together, both within the military and after their discharge at war’s end. Overall, the author’s level-headed storytelling style allows her wry humor to shine through, as she tells how she and Herb made do as well as they could; one passage, for example, tells of how she used a wine bottle as a makeshift rolling pin.

A very personal, easy-to-follow memoir of everyday lives during a time of war.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499359220

Page Count: 302

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 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...


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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