Monthly Archives: October 2010

The myth of rescue : why the democracies could not have saved more Jews from the Nazis.

The myth of rescue : why the democracies could not have saved more Jews from the Nazis London ; New York : Routledge, 1997      William D. Rubinstein World War, 1939-1945 , Jews , Rescue Hardcover. xiii, 267 p. : maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

It has long been claimed that the Allies did little or nothing to rescue Europe’s Jews. Did they deny refuge to those fleeing Hitler’s death machine? Why did they fail to bomb Auschwitz and the other concentration camps? Could they have actually negotiated with the Nazis for Jewish lives?

Arguing that the rescue of the Jewish people has been consistently misinterpreted, The Myth of Rescue states that no Jew who perished in the Holocaust could have been saved by any action of the Western Allies.

Presenting what was actually known of the Holocaust at the time and what actions were realistically possible, William D. Rubinstein traces the development of the arguments surrounding the debate and debunks the “myths” that were generated in the 1970s and ’80s: the myth of the closed-door immigration policies in the years 1933-40 and the plans for rescue proposed by the democracies–including the bombing of concentration camps, the possibility that the War Refugee Board could have saved more Jews, and the rumors of negotiations between the democracies and Nazis to save Jewish lives.

The topic is explored with a historian’s skill and presented with the conviction of one who once believed that the democracies did nothing and more Jews could have been rescued but who now, through his own research, has uncovered evidence that the opposite is true.

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The complete story of the legendary exploits and heroism of the thousands of courageous individuals who fought as spies, guerrillas, propagandists, and saboteurs behind enemy lines.

MacArthur’s undercover war : spies, saboteurs, guerrillas, and secret missions New York : J. Wiley and Sons, c 1995      William B. Breuer World War, 1939-1945 , Campaigns , Pacific Area, MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964 Hardcover. xii, 257 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-250) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Guadalcanal . . . Midway . . . the battle for the Philippines. In each of these critical conflicts, intelligence played a crucial role in bringing about an Allied victory. General MacArthur’s brilliant Pacific campaign was designed around espionage and guerrilla warfare. This is the story of his undercover war.

The covert war General Douglas MacArthur waged against Japanese forces in the Pacific arena was the largest undercover operation ever undertaken. Here, for the first time, is the complete story of the legendary exploits and heroism of the thousands of courageous individuals who fought as spies, guerrillas, propagandists, and saboteurs behind enemy lines.

When the Japanese war juggernaut overran the Philippines, it took a near miraculous PT-boat escape for MacArthur to make his way to safety in Australia. He left behind a force of seventy thousand American and Philippine troops marooned on the Bataan Peninsula. To these brave men the general vowed, “I shall return.” Against overwhelming odds, MacArthur succeeded.

Crucial to his success was his massive covert war effort. MacArthur created his own undercover warfare agency, the super-secret Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), to organize the many far-flung resistance groups.

They were the coast watchers–jungle-wise miners, traders and planters, missionaries, and telegraph operators who occupied remote Pacific islands, living in the most primitive conditions while keeping a constant vigil for Japanese movement.

They were American soldiers who escaped the Bataan Peninsula and were commanding guerrilla armies in the interior mountain and jungle locations of the Philippines.

And they were double agents operating right under the noses of the Japanese in Manila, occupying positions close to the Imperial Army and in the collaborationist Philippine government.

The phenomenal success of MacArthur’s island-hopping “hit-’em-where-they-ain’t” campaign was built on the accuracy of the intelligence gathered by the AIB. Early in the conflict, the Americans cracked the secret Japanese naval code and established a chain of intelligence radio-monitoring posts circling the Japanese empire from Alaska to Australia. The information garnered from their interceptions of Japanese transmissions and from operatives on the ground allowed MacArthur to pick soft targets–islands the Japanese had left relatively unguarded–for invasion. It was the steel nerves and unbounded resourcefulness of those who fought the secret war that paved the way for MacArthur’s “Great Return” to the Philippines and saved the lives of countless American soldiers.

In an action-packed narrative, MacArthur’s Undercover War tells of thrilling feats of valor and derring-do–impossible missions to blow up harbors, kidnap heads of state, undermine currency, and arrange prison escapes, all deep within enemy territory. Firsthand interviews with veterans and information from previously unpublished documents reveal a riveting tale of World War II that has never been fully told.

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“Starved people,” Keys liked to say, “can’t be taught Democracy.”

The great starvation experiment : the heroic men who starved so that millions could live New York : Free Press, c 2006      Todd Tucker World War, 1939-1945  Conscientious objectors  Human experimentation in medicine      Starvation , Physiological effect , Research , United States Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing.      xi, 270 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.      Includes bibliographical references (p. 233-258) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

What does it feel like to starve? To feel your body cry out for nourishment, to think only of food? How many fitful, hungry nights must pass before dreams of home-cooked meals metastasize into nightmares of cannibalism? Why would anyone volunteer to find out?

In The Great Starvation Experiment, historian Todd Tucker tells the harrowing story of thirty-six young men who willingly and bravely faced down profound, consuming hunger. As conscientious objectors during World War II, these men were eager to help in the war effort but restricted from combat by their pacifist beliefs. So, instead, they volunteered to become guinea pigs in one of the most unusual experiments in medical history — one that required a year of systematic starvation.

Dr. Ancel Keys was already famous for inventing the K ration when the War Department asked for his help with feeding the starving citizens of Europe and the Far East at the war’s end. Fascists and Communists, it was feared, could gain a foothold in war-ravaged areas. “Starved people,” Keys liked to say, “can’t be taught Democracy.” The government needed to know the best way to rehabilitate those people who had been severely underfed during the long war. To study rehabilitation, Keys first needed to create a pool of starving test subjects.

Gathered in a cutting-edge lab underneath the football stadium at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Keys’ test subjects forsook most food and were monitored constantly so that Dr. Keys and his scientists could study the effects of starvation on otherwise healthy people. While the weight loss of the men followed a neat mathematical curve, the psychological deterioration was less predictable. Some men drank quarts and quarts of water to fill their empty stomachs. One man chewed as many as forty packs of gum a day. One man mutilated himself to escape the experiment. Ultimately only four of the men were expelled from the experiment for cheating — a testament to the volunteers’ determination and toughness.

To prevent atrocities of the kind committed by the Nazi doctors, international law now prevents this kind of experimentation on healthy people. But in this remarkable book, Todd Tucker captures a lost sliver of American history — a time when cold scientific principles collided with living, breathing human beings. Tucker depicts the agony and endurance of a group of extraordinary men whose lives were altered not only for the year they participated in the experiment, but forever.

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It was an expedition that would end in murder and madness, an expedition that would come to embody the cruelties of imperial conquest and presage nationalistic struggles for liberation.

Aguirre : the re-creation of a sixteenth-century journey across South America New York : H. Holt, 1994      Stephen Minta South America , Discovery and exploration , Spanish,      Aguirre, Lope de, d. 1561 Hardcover     1st American ed. and printing. 244 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.      Includes bibliographical references (p. [231]-234) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/G

Don Lope de Aguirre was a 16th-century megalomaniac and renegade who set out on a doomed expedition through the jungles and mountains of Peru to find the mythical gold-rich realm of El Dorado. It was an expedition that would end in murder and madness, an expedition that would come to embody the cruelties of imperial conquest and presage nationalistic struggles for liberation.

In his absorbing new book, Minta sets out to recreate Aguirre’s arduous journey, weaving together an account of his own recent travels with a historical chronicle of events in 16th-century Peru. This results in an anomalous and highly readable volume that’s part travelogue, part history, part philosophical meditation.

Drawing upon assorted eyewitness and second-hand accounts, Mr. Minta does a succinct job of sketching in the historical backdrop behind Aguirre’s fantastical quest, and conjures up the political and personal tensions that surrounded his expedition.

We are introduced to the unfortunate Pedro de Ursua, the expedition’s original leader, a handsome, youthful and much honored soldier, who often seemed the very epitome of all that Aguirre was not, and who made a series of stupid — and ultimately fatal — misjudgments. We meet Dona Ines, Ursua’s beautiful mistress, who accompanied him on the ill-fated trip and who was accused of bewitching him with her charms. And we meet the feckless Don Fernando de Guzman, the vain, aristocratic dupe, whom Aguirre would use to topple Ursua and then mercilessly slaughter himself.

As for Aguirre, he emerges from Mr. Minta’s account as a ruthless but strangely charismatic madman, almost 50 at the time of the expedition, crippled by earlier injuries and possessed, in Mr. Minta’s words, by “an anonymous rancor and extravagant hope.”

A man with an almost unerring sense of the theatrical, he would proudly defy the authority of the Spanish crown and proclaim himself “the Wrath of God, Prince of Freedom and of the Kingdom of Tierra Firme and the Provinces of Chile, Lord of all South America, from the Isthmus of Panama to the Strait of Magellan.” In Aguirre’s story, Mr. Minta reads not only a parable of imperial adventurism run amok, but also a fable of New World revolutionary fervor in the making.

“This traitor would sometimes say,” writes one firsthand witness to his crimes, “that he already knew for certain that his soul could not be saved; and that, even while he was alive, he was sure he would burn in hell. And, since the raven could be no blacker than its wings, that he must needs commit acts of cruelty and wickedness by which the name of Aguirre would ring throughout the earth, even to the ninth heaven.”

During the expedition’s long and fruitless quest for El Dorado, in a remote Indian village, Aguirre and his co-conspirators deposed Ursua as leader, then brutally hacked him to death. In the next months, as the expedition wound its way deeper and deeper into the Amazonian wilderness, Aguirre embarked on a series of further killings that would continue until the end of his life.

The earlier murders, writes Mr. Minta, seem to have been calculated by Aguirre to instill terror in his men: they were a tactic meant to help him maintain control of the expedition. Later, as the hopelessness of the quest for El Dorado became apparent and Aguirre’s own madness metastasized, his violence grew more random and frenetic. By the time he died in 1561, Aguirre had killed at least 39 of those who had gone with him to Peru, along with countless others who had had the misfortune to cross his path.

Writing in limber, allusive prose, Mr. Minta does a splendid novelistic job of conveying the drama of Aguirre’s shocking tale, and he proves equally adept at situating Aguirre’s adventures in context with the history of Latin America. His account of his own travels through the Peru of the late 1980’s — in which the threat of cannibalistic Indians and death by starvation and disease have given way to the threats posed by the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas — is also colorful and vivid, providing the reader with a resonant counterpoint to the story of Aguirre’s mad journey into the heart of darkness.

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A lively portrait of a world in the throes of first contact with the West, and a remarkable account faith and bravery, On the Missionary Trail is a unique addition to the literature of the missionary encounter.

On the missionary trail : a journey through Polynesia, Asia, and Africa with the London Missionary Society New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c 2000      Tom Hiney London Missionary Society , History , 19th century Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. ix, 367 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 350-353) and index.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is the commandment to spread the word. The London Missionary Society, founded in 1792, sent families to postings as far-flung as the Kalihari desert, Tahiti, and Canton to spread the gospel. But in an era when mail could take over a year to arrive, the LMS had little way of knowing how effective its efforts were. In 1821 the LMS deputized George Bennet and Daniel Tyerman to travel the world, to visit its stations and report on their progress. On the Missionary Trail is an extraordinary account of this expedition.

Their journey would take them to the South Sea Islands, where they reported chiefs surfing, perpetual warfare, and sudden surges and retreats of Christianity based on the whims of local leaders; New Zealand, where they were nearly killed by Maoris mistreated by their last white visitors; China, where missionaries got around the government’s prohibition on foreign residents by working as commercial translators for traders, the Indian subcontinent, where they evaded a tiger attack and witnessed a suttee. They attended a sumptuous wedding of a Chinese merchant’s daughter, a human sacrifice in Oahu, and the first Christian coronation in Tahiti. Their last stop was the slave hub of Madagascar, where Tyerman died of exhaustion and Bennet had to escape the besieged mission house during the outbreak of tribal war in order to leave the country, finally returning home in 1829.

Drawing on historical records and the diaries Tyerman and Bennet kept of their journey, Tom Hiney has sought to find out what kind of people the missionaries were—men who went to strange lands halfway around the globe in service to their faith and whose lives are now mostly forgotten. A lively portrait of a world in the throes of first contact with the West, and a remarkable account faith and bravery, On the Missionary Trail is a unique addition to the literature of the missionary encounter.

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