A brisk work of history that weaves together the various factions responsible for the deployment of the first nuclear bombs.

COUNTDOWN 1945

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE 116 DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

What it took for Harry Truman, after fewer than three months in the White House, to decide to drop the atomic bomb—and how the plan was executed.

The end of World War II in the Pacific was as definitive as the mushroom cloud and firestorm produced by the weapon that brought it about. Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace describes a moment in history when both intense deliberation and decisive leadership were essential. On April 12, 1945, Truman, then the vice president, was summoned to the White House, where he expected to meet President Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, he was received by the president’s wife, Eleanor, who told Truman that Roosevelt had died, only a few months into his fourth term. Truman was shaken by the news, but it was a cryptic message from Secretary of War Henry Stimson that would define the rest of that year—and the war. Stimson informed the new president about Roosevelt’s top-secret project to build a nuclear weapon, and he did not prevaricate in describing the weapon’s potential to the new president: “Modern civilization might be completely destroyed.” Wallace describes how Truman thought that there was every reason to believe that the alternative to using the new weapon—a ground invasion—would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, on both the American/Allied and the Japanese side. The author peppers in the story of Hideko Tamura, a young Japanese girl who was sent away from her home in Hiroshima only to beg her mother to return—just in time to survive the detonation of the first atomic bomb. Wallace presents a mostly entertaining, if familiar, history of the three months between Truman’s taking office and the dropping of the bombs, but he only briefly engages with issues like the suffering of innocent Japanese and the intense misgivings of scientists like Albert Einstein.

A brisk work of history that weaves together the various factions responsible for the deployment of the first nuclear bombs.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982143-34-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

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ELEANOR

A LIFE

A comprehensive exploration of one of the most influential women of the last century.

The accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) were widespread and substantial, and her trailblazing actions in support of social justice and global peace resonate powerfully in our current moment. Her remarkable life has been extensively documented in a host of acclaimed biographies, including Blanche Wiesen Cook’s excellent three-volume life. Eleanor was also a highly prolific writer in her own right; through memoirs, essays, and letters, she continuously documented experiences and advancing ideas. In the most expansive one-volume portrait to date, Michaelis offers a fresh perspective on some well-worn territory—e.g., Eleanor’s unconventional marriage to Franklin and her progressively charged relationships with men and women, including her intimacy with newspaper reporter Lorena Hickok. The author paints a compelling portrait of Eleanor’s life as an evolving journey of transformation, lingering on the significant episodes to shed nuance on her circumstances and the players involved. Eleanor’s privileged yet dysfunctional childhood was marked by the erratic behavior and early deaths of her flighty, alcoholic father and socially absorbed mother, and she was left to shuttle among equally neglectful relatives. During her young adulthood, her instinctual need to be useful and do good work attracted the attention of notable mentors, each serving to boost her confidence and fine-tune her political and social convictions, shaping her expanding consciousness. As in his acclaimed biography of Charles Schulz, Michaelis displays his nimble storytelling skills, smoothly tracking Eleanor’s ascension from wife and mother to her powerfully influential and controversial role as first lady and continued leadership and activist efforts beyond. Throughout, the author lucidly illuminates the essence of her thinking and objectives. “As Eleanor’s activism evolved,” writes Michaelis, “she did not see herself reaching to solve social problems so much as engaging with individuals to unravel discontinuities between the old order and modernity.”

A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9201-6

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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