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5.0 out of 5 stars Carefully Researched and very Readable., 14 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Untold History of the United States (Paperback)
This is a carefully researched, well written and very readable work by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Since I'm old enough to have lived through all that is described in this work except for chapters 1 and some of 2, I was encouraged to find that both the descriptions and the assessments of the history of this period are much as I remember them. Among my earliest memories are the Silver Jubilee in 1935 and the Abdication in 1936. 'Abdication' was one of the first long words I learned to spell along with reciting the multiplication tables. In those days we learned all the tables by rote right up to 12 x 12 = 144 and to recite the alphabet by the time we were six years old. I can also recall the old people saying that we were not ready to go to war in September 1939 and that we wouldn't really help the Poles very much by so doing. I can also remember how, after war was declared on 3 September, my father told me that, right or wrong, we must be loyal to king and country and that things that could be said publicly in peacetime must not be spoken openly in wartime.

When what was then the USSR invaded Finland people all over the UK were knitting gloves and balaclavas for the brave Finnish soldiers who were fighting so valiantly against the Russian communist bullies. Then, when Hitler invaded Russia, we were told that the Finns were now bad because they supported the Germans and that we must send help to Uncle Joe and his brave Russians. Later on, when the Americans entered the war and their soldiers, known as GIs, began to arrive in the UK the answer to the question: 'What is wrong with the Yanks?' was: 'They're overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here.' Later on, when black American soldiers began to arrive, they were amazed at how kindly they were treated by the British people. We all knew that the Montgomery led victory over the Germans at El Alamein marked a turning point in the war and that after the Russian victory at Stalingrad the defeat of Nazi Germany was certain. This is the kind of thing that is brought out so accurately in this interesting book. As I read it I felt I was reliving the past 70 years and more. I kept saying to myself: 'Yes! That's just how I remember it.'

The Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese wars are carefully reviewed and the American blunders that so many of us were only too well aware of at the time, including their ignominious defeat by the Vietnamese, are carefully analysed. The most encouraging thing about this book is that, precisely because it exposes the mistakes and weaknesses of the various presidents and their governments, it has the effect of bringing the reader closer to the American people who are just people after all and not some Holywoodised super race incapable of ever being in the wrong. We may be forgiven for supposing that Tony Blair actually believed that they must indeed be infallible, otherwise he would not have supported either the Afghan war or the second Iraq war., both of which can now be seen to have been disastrous mistakes, all of which is carefully evidenced and explained in this well written book.

This carefully researched work also exposes how unnecessary it was to drop the atom bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki since the Japanese had already decided to surrender, which was being held up mainly because of deciding how to treat the Japanese emperor, a problem that could have been solved without the bombs. Since Christianity is very much a minority religion in Japan, it was ironic that Nagasaki, a city with the largest Christian minority in the country, was chosen as the target for the second atom bomb with the result that, not only was the cathedral destroyed, but thousands of Japanese Christians also perished. These are just a few examples of how good this book is.

One of the most interesting aspects of this work is what it has to say about Jimmy Carter. It shows how, although a blundering president, he accomplished a whole host of good things both before and after he was president. This work reveals the American people as human beings much the same as the rest of us and not as some kind of super-beings especially adapted for world leadership and always right about everything. A great nation, yes; but certainly not faultless.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jan 2014 19:09:27 GMT
Georgie says:
Are there any sections on the Civil Rights Movement in America or American race-relations in the book? I'm looking for some extra reading for school and I'm wondering whether buying this book would be useful. :)

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2014 14:35:23 GMT
H. A. Weedon says:
Hello Georgina. Civil liberties pp. 561-62. Obama and CL. pp. 549-541. Violation of CL pp. 504-5. Bush record on civil rights: pp. 544-45 Civil Rights Movement: pp. 233, 340 and 356.

So, you see, there doesn't seem to be an awful lot about the Civil Rights Movement, which just gets mentioned in relation to other events.

I hope this helps.
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H. A. Weedon

Location: North Somercotes, Lincolnshire, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 858