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'Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II (review)

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katty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-17-08 12:54 PM
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'Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II (review)
more: http://www.calendarlive.com/books/bookreview/cl-bk-kurl...

'Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization' by Nicholson Baker
The novelist has amassed many contemporary documents for an inside look at the inexorable march of Britain and the United States toward World War II.

By Mark Kurlansky

Human Smoke

The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization

Nicholson Baker

Simon & Schuster

NOT long ago, because there is no winter baseball in this country, I was channel surfing in search of amusement and ended up watching a debate of Republican presidential candidates. Sen. John McCain was attacking Rep. Ron Paul for opposing the Iraq war. He called Paul an "isolationist" and said it was that kind of thinking that had caused World War II. How old, I asked myself, is John McCain, that he is keeping alive this ancient World War II canard? Is it going to pass down to subsequent generations? All wars have to be sold, but World War II, within the memory of the pointless carnage that then became known as World War I, was a particularly hard sell. Roosevelt and Churchill did it well, and their lies have been with us ever since.

Nicholson Baker's "Human Smoke" is a meticulously researched and well-constructed book demonstrating that World War II was one of the biggest, most carefully plotted lies in modern history. According to the myth, British and American statesmen naively thought they could reason with such brutal fascists as Germany's Hitler and Japan's Tojo. Faced with this weakness, Hitler and Tojo tried to take over the world, and the United States and Britain were forced to use military might to stop them.

Because Baker is primarily a novelist, it might be expected that, having taken on this weighty subject, he would write about it with great flare and drama. Readers may initially be disappointed, yet one of this book's great strengths is that it avoids flourishes in favor of the kind of lean prose employed by journalists.
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