A sympathetic, exciting portrait of both American and Japanese warriors caught up in “targeted-kill operations.”

DEAD RECKONING

THE STORY OF HOW JOHNNY MITCHELL AND HIS FIGHTER PILOTS TOOK ON ADMIRAL YAMAMOTO AND AVENGED PEARL HARBOR

An evenhanded history of the hunt for the mastermind of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nearly a year and a half after the U.S. declared war on Japan, the Army Air Forces would finally catch up with Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, in the skies over the then-Japanese-held islands of Rabaul and Bougainville. Lehr—a professor of journalism at Boston University who has written two books on Whitey Bulger—weaves together two touching stories: the tale of Maj. John Mitchell, who was an ace flyboy chosen to lead the mission, homesick for his new bride, as well as the story of Mitchell’s team; and the chronicle of Yamamoto, who, as a young cadet, had seen his country prevail against the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and became a forward-thinking officer who attended Harvard, worked two postings in Washington, D.C., and—significantly—grasped that aircraft carriers were the weapon of the future. Yamamoto also “sensed…from a mix of press accounts and military intelligence, that the United States was waking up—that following the deadly Pearl Harbor debacle, instead of curling up into a fetal position, she was climbing to her feet, raring to fight and seek vengeance. [He] had no way of knowing its full extent, but the winter of 1942 saw the [U.S.] hastily and effectively establish its wartime footing.” By 1943, he was nearing 60, with a wife and children as well as a longtime geisha lover to whom he wrote passionate letters. Refreshingly, Lehr gets beyond the hate-filled, racist propaganda on both sides to give an honest appraisal of the protagonists, especially Yamamoto, whose logic in attacking Pearl Harbor was to “induce [America] to settle for peace with Japan.” Once the Americans cracked the Japanese code, Midway became “Yamamoto’s lament.”

A sympathetic, exciting portrait of both American and Japanese warriors caught up in “targeted-kill operations.” (b/w photos)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-244851-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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