An engaging work of World War II history.

HITLER'S SECRET ARMY

A HIDDEN HISTORY OF SPIES, SABOTEURS, AND TRAITORS

A prolific British documentary filmmaker and author pursues the documentation released between 2000 and 2017 by MI5 and other entities that reveals the mostly secret convictions of a considerable number of British spies during World War II.

Despite what England has publicly presented—that the so-called Fifth Column was a myth and the threat of “enemies within” just hysteria—Tate (Pride: The Unlikely Story of the True Heroes of the Miner's Strike, 2018, etc.) returns to the record to tell a different story. He underscores three elements: that the majority of spies for Nazi Germany were not German immigrants but British citizens; that those punished were of lower class than the aristocratic ringleaders at the top; and that much of the evidence of convictions was buried or covered up for decades. Tate looks at several espionage networks, many developed in small towns around regular kinds of people who became radicalized by infiltrations of resourceful German intelligence agents in Britain in its plan to invade the country in the late 1930s. Britain did not have a functioning anti-espionage law until August 1939, when Parliament enacted an Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, allowing a classification system (regarding the level of threat) for non-naturalized Germans living in the country. By May 1940, the House of Commons passed the Treachery Act, dispensing the death penalty for treason. The pool of big fish, “the key pillars of British society,” contained plenty of rabid anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi figures, such as Oswald Mosely and his British Union and Archibald Ramsay and his Right Club, which was plotting a coup to replace the government with Nazi sympathizers. While the latter retained his seat in the House of Commons, many little fish were severely punished, even hanged. From the internment of suspects, the British eventually turned to a more covert form of entrapment: the sting operation. In true documentarian fashion, the author relentlessly brings forth evidence that has long been buried.

An engaging work of World War II history.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-077-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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 moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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