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Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, 1940
Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, 1940
by Robert Carl Pearson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.06
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4.0 out of 5 stars How to trick the Nazis, August 22, 2015
This is a very interesting book on a very exciting subject, namely: how the Norwegians succeeded to dupe the Nazis and smuggle out Norway's gold to England and later to the USA and Canada. The book has some flaws and they have to do with the poor style of writing and the lack of maps. However, it is well researched and
is, all in all, a reasonable read.

Being Nixon: A Man Divided
Being Nixon: A Man Divided
by Evan Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.35
81 used & new from $15.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rise and rall of Nixon(aka Hubris), August 15, 2015
In what seems to be one of the best-ever written biographies of President Nixon, Evan Thomas wanted to understand who the real Nixon was. In addition, as Mr Thomas writes, the question he kept asking was "whether Nixon could see the true Nixon". Nixon's strenghts were his weaknesses, and vice versa. The drive that propelled him also crippled him. The underdog's sensitivity that made him farsighted also blinded him. He wanted to show that he was hard because he felt soft. He learned how to be popular because he felt rejected. He was the lonely everyman to the end.
In this fascinating and gripping biography, the author peels away all the layers of this complex man who eventually would become the 37th President of the USA, showing the so many contradictions of his personality. To his merit one should mention the detente with the USSR, the establishment of diplomatic relations with China and the ending ot the Vietnam War. Watergate was Nixon's own graveyard as a result of his hubris.
This is a very insightful history and biography of a man who always showed optimism, written in a very dynamic style. You will enjoy each and every page of this book, which is based on original research. Kudos, Mr Thomas!

Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy
Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy
by Frank McLynn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.37
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The History of a Mass Murderer, July 20, 2015
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Mr Mclynn has written an interesting book about one of the most famous mass murderers in the history of mankind. This was was Genghis Khan, a man who was destined to murder and obliterate anything and anyone that stood in his way. According to the author, at least 37.5 million people were exterminated by the hordes of Genghis Khan.
In fact, Mr Mclynn admits right at the beginning that to write a definitive biography of Khan would be impossible, since a biographer would have to master many difficult languages an impossible task for anyone to undertake. Therefore, the result is a synthesis of forty years of research of the Mongolian Empire(including some 100 pages of endnotes).
Indeed, Genghis Khan's men succeeded in conquering and creating the greatest empire which has ever existed,"a kingdom that stretched from the Pacific to the Caspian, from Korea to the Caucasus, from Siberia to the Yellow River".
The first chapter is a long one which describes the steppe and the animals which made it possible for the ferocious forces to subdue their rivals. The Mongolian-bred horse had a central role in it. This was a fierce tribal world, into which Genghis was born in 1162, although there is still some controversy among historians about the exact date of his birth. Khan's childhood was one full of violence, and many of his relatives were simpply butchered by other rival clans. Treachery and brutality were the two elements which made up his world, after being named "the Ruler of the World" by various chieftains. In 1206 Genghis started his career as mass butcherer, sacking the Kingdom of Kwarezmia, and destroying many other famous cities and tribes, killing the so many prisoners of war so that his forces would not have to feed them.
In 1256, while in China, he suddenly died and Ogodei, his son, took over, continuing his father's brutal legacy of conquering Armenia, Georgia and Russia, after which he died-on his way to Austria- like his father, suddenly.
Mr Mclynn discusses in broad detail Genghis' character. He justifies the rehabilitation of him and admires his military conquests, although his other achievements were "parasitic", because the Mongols created" no literature, no art, no architecture, no techonolgy, no culture". All this in contrast to other "Great" men like Alexander or Napoleon.
I beg to differ with the term "Great" and personally have never considered the conquerors mentioned as "great" because there is one common thread which runs through their lives: the cruelty and suffering inflicted on many tens of millions of others. Thus, I cannot agree with mr Mclynn's statement the "rehabilitation can be justified".
The second problem of this book is that in many cases, the writing is full of very obscure and unitelligible phrases that make it hard on the reader to discern their meaning. Thus, although a very comprehensive and interesting book, it gets only four stars.

A Higher Form of Killing: Six Weeks in World War I That Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare
A Higher Form of Killing: Six Weeks in World War I That Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare
by Diana Preston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.37
82 used & new from $10.24

5.0 out of 5 stars The evil side of mankind, July 11, 2015
The British admiral Jackiy Fisher, the father of the Dreadnought battleship and delegate at the first Hague Conference said:"The humanising of war, you might as well talk about humanizing hell! The essence of war is violence".
Enter Diana Preston's fascinating and gripping book, which offers a new window onto Worl War One. Poison gas, the torpedo and the Zeppelin-these were the new weapons which were firstly used in the Great War and which were responsible, to a large extent, for the decimation of millions of lives.
It was Fritz Haber who heard and took up the call of the German Chief of Staff to produce a more lethal weapon that has not been used before. Coming from a Jewish family, he converted to Christianity and soon began experimenting in his laboratory with poison gas,and soon it became a prominent component of the arsenals of the belligerents. This element was not the decisive war winning weapon as Haber hoped. Had Haber lived today, he would have definitely been considered a war criminal.
Mind you, if this was not enough, Haber's Institute developed a cyanide-based gas, Zyclon-A, actually for use in pest control, which would be later modified and called Zyclon-B, which was used to exterminate the many millions of Jews and others during the years 1941-1945.
The other two lethal weapons, namely: the submarine and the Zeppelin, were used indiscriminately to bomb London, Britain and other passenger ships.
This book is extremely relevant today because mass destruction weapons are still with us, waiting in line for rogue regimes to be used against their adversaries.
This a very well researched book with new insights on the two World Wars, although heavily British inclined, but still recommended.

The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
by David E. Hoffman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.24
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold War Spy, July 11, 2015
After the fall of Communism, serious historians and other writers have had the chance, for the first time, to have access to the so many documents which were held in the post-Communist archives as well as in the Western ones, thus completing the picture of the hidden dimension of the history of Cold War espionage. No serious historian writing about the Cold War History can ignore the role Intelligence played during that era.
David Hoffman's book is one of the many published so far, although the story of Tolkachev has been told before. But what makes this book interesting is that we gain the whole picture of the whole Tolkachev affair for the first time. Hoffman shows the daily routine of the CIA recruiters and intelligence officers who worked inside the crumbling USSR and their almost daily modus operandi.
No matter how much hi-tech and SIGINT are developed, this episode proves again how HUMINT forms and will form the best possible way of obtaining the secrets which are, as the author puts it, in the minds of the relevant people. "It will be necessary to look them in the eye, earn their trust, calm their anxiety, and share their peril".
Tolkachev worked right under the nose of the KGB. He never belonged to the Communist party.
Mr Hoffman describes in great detail the many meetings Tolkachev had with his handlers. To be exact, there were twenty-one such meetings, which were held within three miles of the front entrance of the KGB. The result was impressive and and nature of the material passed to the CIA people included diagrams, specifications, blueprints, and circuits from airborne radars and the disclosure of Soviet military research and development stretching a decade into the future. These materials were essential for the US intelligence community, because there were holesand misjudgements on Soviet capabilities and intentions. When it came to air defenses, Soviet tactical fighters, interceptors, radars, avionics, and guidance systems would confront Americans in any hot war. The result was that the USA has enjoyed almost total air superiority over Soviet-built fighters for more than two decades.
His information was worth billions of dollars. Why did Tolkachev become a spy? He told the CIA people that he became scornful of what he called the "impassable, hypocritical demogoguery "of the Soviet partystance, and also found inspiration in Andrei Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, voices of conscience who waged a titanic struggle against Soviet totalitarianism.
By using many declassified CIA documents, and after interviewing senior CIA officers, as well as incorporating new materials from Russian archives, Mr Hoffman has produced a riveting and intriguing story and the way old-fashioned espionage worked during the 1980s. Highly recommended.

Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
by Rosemary Sullivan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.19
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dictator's Daughter, July 6, 2015
One evening, while attending a party, Svetlana met a Professor who was a literary critic and historian of Russian poetry. His name was Victor Manuylov. He asked Svetlana to show him her palm. After examining it, he told her that her life "divides into three periods: The first, finished long ago, was one of cloudless bliss. Your present period is difficult...Then you will begin the third period, when you will cross oceans and travel far away". Uncannily, he had described the exact trajectory of Svetlana's life.
Indeed, after growing up and after realizing the atrocious crimes committed by her brutal father, she decided to defect to the USA. She left behind her two children.
But despite her defection, hoping for a better future, Svetlana's life was extremely complicated and hard. She was constantly on the move, married disastrously, shunned Russian exiles and in the end finished her life in utter povery, leaving behind her daughter, Olga, who collected her mother's ashes and scattered them in the Pacific Ocean.
In this brilliant and impressive long biography, Rosemary Sullivan has managed to do the impossible: to re-create Svetlana's life bit by bit. Wrting a biography is not an easy job. It requires patience, a lot of information-gathering and the examination of facts from various perpectives. In a way, Svetlana's biographer was lucky, since she got the co-operation of her subject's daughter, Olga. In addition, she incorporated many new and original documents long buried in the archives of the FBI, CIA and Russian archives.
The final result is an epic tale and history of Stalin's daughter told panoramically in 36 chapters describing the historical and political context of Svetlana's life. It shows the road of Svetlana's life from Moscow to India, Oxford and Princeton. Although the reader can sometimes be tired by the so many tiny bits of information, this book, which includes many photos, is splendid in its depth and scope and also highly entertaining as well.

KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps
KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps
by Nikolaus Wachsmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.49
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, brilliant and a classic !, July 1, 2015
Towards the end of May 1943,a man, age thirty-two, arrived in Auschwitz, after spending most of the previous two years on the Eastern front, as an SS battalion medical officer.He supervised prisoner executions and gassings, and became known for his lethal approach to epidemics. The man's name was Josef Mengele. He was just one of the so many SS murderers who committed the most atrocious crimes in the annals of the human history.
Mengele's specialty was the torture and experiments of twins. He carried out grotesque surgical experiments, often without anaesthetic.
He was not alone in this and, in fact, he continued a sadistic tradition among Nazi dotcors, namely that of euthanasia,(whose main function was to kill the asocials in the Third Reich, among them alcoholics, vagrants, and those mentally-ill) which was a general rehearsal not only for the Holocaust extermination policy of those incarcerated in concentration camps, but also for the mass killlings and murders perpetrated by the Nazi regime.
In this brilliant, evocative and comprehensive study of the camps, Professor Wachsmann shows how the camps evolved from the period of mass concentration to mass extermination, and the various crimes committed there. He gives a broad outline about the history of the most famous camps, starting with Dachau, showing to what extent these camps were reliant on bureaucracy, transport, mass communication, technology, as well as industrially manufactured barracks, barbed wire, machine guns, and gas canisters.
The notion of concentration camps was not something original which the Nazis invented; it originated in the nineteenth century. Of the 2.3 million inmates who were put into the camps, 1.7 were exterminated, most of them Jews.
This book is a synthesis of previous research and also incorporates new archival documents, mainly contemporaneous material produced by prisoners. This book will be the classic standard volume of reference on this subject for many years to come.

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II
Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II
by Richard Reeves
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.81
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5.0 out of 5 stars Race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership, June 20, 2015
The words in my title were taken from a report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Interment, which was published in 1982.
This shameful episode in American history should always be remembered. The facts are well known: more than 120000 Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to relocation camps in various parts of the USA. This came as a result of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.
By reading memoirs, letters and diaries, and after interviews conducted with relevant persons, Mr Reeves managed to tell us a most powerful story of this horrible atrocity. The main culprits of this tragedy were, in addition to FDR, Earl Warren and Ed Murrow and many other prominent public figures.There were also other Americans who took risks to defend the rights of those arrested.
Ironically, when the camps closed, many of those who belonged to the older generation refused to leave them because they lost almost everything they had when interned. Some had to be shoved onto buses.
Greed, xenophobia, paranoia and racism were the motives which define and underline this part of American history. Five points are awarded for this excellent book!

The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East
The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East
by Eugene Rogan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.96
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5.0 out of 5 stars SIC TRANSIT GLORIA TURCA, June 19, 2015
This superb book describes the demise of "Europe's sick man" particularly during World War One. It is impeccably researched, has vivid and colourful characters, is packed with action and full of relevant analyses throughout. It shows to what extent the Versailles agreements of 1919 and onwards were a tragedy for many new nations. It also shows the many contradictions of the Balfour Declaration and its negative impact in the Middle East. This is a book to be read and re-read and is a real treat!

Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century
Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century
by Konrad H. Jarausch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.81
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rise, Fall and Rise of Europe, June 13, 2015
The key concept around which this book revolves has to do with modernity. What is modernity? How did modernity influence the outcome of European history from 1880-to 2015? In what way did science, technology and the various arts influence this period? How did the pre-1914 era influence the rest of history? Why and how did Europe rise, fall and rise again between 1914 to 1945?
These are the main topics raised in this interesting and magnificent book. The author describes in great detail in what way the many and various European nations emerged from the nineteenth century with high hopes for comtinued material progress, only to become involved in the mass manslaugher of WW1. What were the pressures that fragmented the project of advancement into liberal, comminist and fascist ideologies, each promoting a different blueprint for the future?
The 1920s witnessed renewed hope and a flourishing of modernist arts and literature, but the decade ended in the famous economic collapse and gave rise to a second,more devastating war and genocide on an unprecedented scale, only to recover surprisingly due to American help and political integration. As the author writes, he wanted to write and explore the way Europe marched from "material dynamism to a frightful process of self-destruction".
The destruction of the continent in 1945 was much greater in 1945 than in 1914, since more areas had been involved in the fighting and new weapons proved much more lethal. Ironically, the greater physical destruction and loss of life during the Second World War inspired a more intensive soul-searching than afetr the First about how "to create conditions for a genuinely democratic government". Among the victors, the US leaders decided to remain involved in international affairs in order to help advance capitalism and democracy.
The military rivalry of the Cold War perpetuated the frightful face of modernity by bringing humanity closer ever to the verge of self-destruction. The frantic effort to gain an advantage over the other triggered a technological race for developing more effective weapons and systems. Most lethal was the creation of the atomic and hydrogen bombs. Fortunately the deadliness of the weapons proved self-limiting and turned the Cold War into a peaceful competition between modernization alternatives, also leading to stabilized frontiers and mutual recognition of shepres of influence.
The book contains four parts. The first one, called "Promise of Progress" deals with the years 1900-1929.
The second, called "Turn to Self-Destruction" is about the years 1929-to 1945. Here its seven chapters describe the devastating Depresssion, the Stalinist modernization and its failure, the unleashing of World War Two, the Nazi Holocaust and the bitter victory of the Allies.
The third part, called "Suprising victory" isbout the years 1945-1973 and are mainly about the rise of Communism and its spread in Eastern Europe. Other parts are about the decolonization preocess and the about the social reforms carried out throughout the continent.
The last part, called "Confronting Globalization, 1973-2000", is about the post-industrial transition, the return to detente and the fall and demise of the Communist regimes. The book concludes with a discussion about the class of modern liberalism versus the rise of Islam.
Although far from being an easy read, the book is full of original insights and extremely dynamic, showing the perpetual and amazing rise of Europe from the ashes of self-destruction. It also calls the leaders of the US to learn from European history and instructs us in what way wars can be destructive and murderous.

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