One of the better recent blow-by-blow chronicles of a World War II unit.



A fine account of the brutal daily experiences of a celebrated British tank regiment.

World War II historiography received a shot in the arm with Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book, Band of Brothers, which eschewed the traditional campaigns-and-commanders format to describe a single unit’s experience. In his latest, veteran military historian Holland, author of more than 10 books about WWII, tries his hand successfully with the Sherwood Rangers. A British cavalry regiment throughout World War I, in 1942, the Rangers converted to armor in time to fight at El Alamein and then across North Africa. Withdrawn to Britain, they trained throughout early 1944 and then came ashore on Gold Beach on D-Day. This book is the result of massive research in British and American archives, plus a few interviews with survivors, and the author includes a generous selection of maps and photos. The text is best suited for military buffs, as Holland delivers an intense, 400-page description of the regiment’s nearly yearlong battle across France, Belgium, and Germany. An expert military historian, the author steps back regularly from battlefield fireworks to explain tactics and technical details. The Rangers mostly drove American Sherman tanks, denigrated from the beginning for having smaller guns and less armor than German tanks, but Holland records few complaints. They were reliable, easy to operate, and quick to repair compared to German behemoths, and they could fire a shell every three seconds. The regiment’s Shermans destroyed many Tigers and Panthers, and shells that bounced off distracted their operators. Readers who assume that it was safer to be inside a tank will quickly realize their error thanks to Holland’s precise accounts. Casualties were high, and deaths often gruesome from burns or suffocation. Many popular historians write that German resistance collapsed once the Allies crossed the Rhine, but this wasn’t the experience of the Rangers, who fought and died until a few days before the end.

One of the better recent blow-by-blow chronicles of a World War II unit.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5908-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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

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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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