Scathing Book Reviews of The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank, (naturally) is one of those books that I just can’t bring myself to read because of the “depression factor”.  I’ve seen two Film Adaptations of the Diary of Anne Frank and I just can’t bring myself to read the book, because you know, there just isn’t going to be a happy ending. 

I think Anne Frank’s Diary is assigned reading for Junior High and High School students in both English and History classes because it makes the kids realize that history impacts real people their own age, like Anne, rather than just unfolding in dry history books or in black and white documentaries. 

These Scathing Book Reviews of the Diary of Anne Frank don’t take issue with the Holocaust, but with the content of the book, and wish that Anne was a bit more Frank about the history unfolding outside the annex:

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but Anne Frank is more boring than the Home and Garden channel. She writes well, but why in the world should students have to read about her life as a young girl who does only one thing, complains. She goes on and on and on about NOTHING. It is like reading a broken record. I can’t believe that anyone could enjoy this book. I would rather watch professional bowling than read this book again.

…and:

I know that the holocoust was horrible and something that we do not want to repeat again but Anne Frank is just BORING. im not prejudice and i feel horrible about the holocaust but what i don’t get is why is this girl complaining about her life? she had it way better off then some people. And why this diary is even famous. Anyone from the holocaust could have written a diary and be made famous.

…and:

hey i am 13 years old like her and had to read it for my school and i thought it was the most boring book i have ever read. I mean i totally respect the holocaust and i am not pregiduce i just hated that book and it totally wasted my time. THANK YOU

…and:

It was really really boring. Its about some girl and her life- who cares!?! It is a total girly-girl book. Too dull to even care.

…and this utterly misgueded review, who seems to think Anne Frank decided to write the diary to become “famouse”:

This book was soo boring i read 2 pages then i burnt it. If you read this book i will personaly burn it for u……. SHe dint need to rite a fricken diary she just wanted to become famouse and she wanted people to feel sorry for her!!!!!!!

Scathing Book Reviews of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler

You know, even with a site named Scathing Book Reviews, I often feel sorry for the writer who gets pilloried by bad reviews, even though getting a One Star from someone named BigTuna34JerseyBoy on Amazon isn’t the same as getting a nasty review from Michiko Kakutani.  However, in the case of Reviews of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, I’ll won’t feel a hint of guilt.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him?  Funny little mustache, black and white films, popular in the 1930s?  No, not Charlie Chaplin.  Yes, Hitler.  Some say Stalin was just as bad, but one thing you have to give to Stalin is that he just killed everybody that was against him, with no discrimination.  Stalin was just evil, while Hitler was distinguished by being both Maniacal and Evil.

While the Allies settled his hash a long time ago, and Hitler is surely paying for his crimes in the hereafter, history, in the form of the trusty Amazon reviewer, surely has the last laugh.  These Scathing Reviews of Mein Kampf say the book isn’t worth the struggle:

Talk about long winded!!! I find this a difficult read, he goes from one subject to another leaving me saying “whaaaaaat??”. Maybre I’m just a moron, got up to page 75ish & chucked. I read for pleasure, why tourture myself??!!!

…and:

Mein Kampf is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. The tittle, when translated into English means My Struggle. Personally, my struggle was just getting through the first half of the book!

…and:

It should be known that while Mein Kampf was a big seller during Hitler’s reign, almost nobody outside the Party read it, it was so poorly written and obtuse. It is too bad that people read this crap and try to make its author more than what he was, an extremely lucky, but grossly ignorant man whose philosophy came from the gutters of Vienna and his inspiration from an event (WWI) that should never have happened.

…and:

It reads like what it is, a transcribed series of demented monologes dictated by *der Adolf* while he was cooling his heels in jail after the failed Munich *putsch*. Sure it’s all in there, the Holocaust, the war, the whole schmeer, but who can wade through the morass of turgid prose to find it? Who would want to? Imagine reading a transcript of fifty drunken, disjointed, endless *speils* by your racist old uncle against Jews, bankers, Communists and whoever else he had decided to hate that day. That’s what it’s like

…and:

Assuming, however, that the English translation is accurate, I cannot see how this maniacal idiot could have captivated otherwise intelligent and industrious people. I guess the Great Depression did strange things to people.

…and:

hmmm…this book reads like a madman’s amphetamine-driven rants.

…and:

its funny to read about how he admired henry ford for being anti-semitic. gosh i thought america was anti-hitler from the start, what with all the indiana jones and john wayne movies i have seen over the years.

…and finally, a reviewer who notes that while Adolf Hitler made a pretty fair homicidal would-be world destroyer, the authorial skills he displays in Mein Kampf are lacking:

No matter what you think of Hitler’s philosophy, this book is poorly written. Mr. Hitler despite his keen ability to commit a coup d’etat, run a fascist nation, and run a murderous holocaust he certaintly has trouble keeping his train of thought.

Scathing Book Reviews of 1421: The Year China Discovered America, by Gavin Menzies

1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies is also known as 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, by those unfortunate enough to not live in America. (I keed, I keed…)  Seriously, that is its title overseas, and whether you agree with the thesis of 1421 or not, it’s safe to say that someone at Harper Collins discovered localized editions sometime in the 20th Century.

Now, as someone who’ll never forget reading about Thor Heyerdahl for the first time back in 4th Grade, I have to admit that the concept of the Chinese discovering America is intriguing, and y’know, those Aztec temples do look a lot like some Chinese restaurants I’ve been to.  When I read The Discoverers years back, I remember reading about the Chinese Treasure fleet with awe, and I would imagine one of those vessels would be easily large enough to sail across the ocean.  PBS, apparently needing something people would ACTUALLY WATCH for a pledge drive, even came out with a 1421 DVD, which no doubt now comes with a complimentary PBS tote bag for every pledge over $50.

However, the lack of solid documentation, and criticism of respected historians, combined with the recent publication of 1434, in which Menzies credits China with sparking the Italian Renaissance, makes me think that the author simply fell in love with his idea.  I’m sure he believes that China did all he claims… But I don’t.  On the other hand, no one once believed the Vikings visited North America prior to Columbus, which is now an accepted and documented fact.  However, these Scathing Book Reviews of 1421: The Year China Discovered America , think the book is like Chop Suey – apparently authentic, but not quite:

This is quite possibly the worst book ever written. A five year old could have written something that would have had more historical merit.

…and:

Menzies’ own account of his research techniques leaves one gasping with incredulity at his incompetence.

…and:

Oh, boy! This enormous example of what Samuel Eliot Morison called “moonstruck history” is a poorly edited, contradictory and irksome argument that the Chinese voyages of 1420 and following went not only to Africa, as Louise Levathes and others have documented, but circled the earth including treks to near the North and South Poles and planted colonies in North and South America.

…and:

 If you believe that little green men from outer space built Stonehenge or the Nazca lines in Peru, this is the book you want to read.

…and:

I would give this book no stars, excepting two factors. First, the part about trained otters was cool. Second, it made me laugh.

…and:

This book is both good and original, but but part that is good isn’t original and the part that is original isn’t good.

…and:

As a professor of Chinese history, I cringe now thinking about the time that I will have to take during class, time that could be used teaching about Chinese history and civilization, to disabuse students who have heard about this caper.

…and:

Eric von Danekin showed more scholarship in making his claim that aliens built the pyramids… Pseudo-science and pseudo-history are going downhill.

…and:

…I’m open to this story at the beginning. But I’m from Missouri, so when, on page 415, I find “the Mississippi River west of Kansas City” that old show-me attitude really kicks in…

…and, of course, the mandatory decrying of slipping standards:

It can only be an indictment of our currrent, media-addled culture that anyone would take this book as serious history.

…and this reviewer of 1421 believes the Chinese must’ve made one other major discovery. That’s right, the little blue pill:

I… enjoyed him having the Chinese making sperm donations throughout the New World into New Mexico and Arizona. They were definitely intrepid and must have also had Viagra.

Scathing Book Reviews of Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

These critical reviews of Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose are pretty heavy artillery, and its worth noting that they’re savaging the book, not the subject. Easy Company 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was certainly a “Company of Heroes”, but then again, so were many other units.

My Great Uncle died at the Battle of St. Lo, and he was in a Tank Destroyer unit of the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead!). Many other units went on the line on D-Day and never really left it, unlike Easy Company, which had two major “rest” opportunities. Again, this doesn’t diminish the personal heroism of those that served in Easy, but they didn’t necessarily have the hardest war, the highest casualties, or the best leadership among the many units that fought in the European Theater. What they did get was the attention of a “name brand” author, Stephen Ambrose, and these Scathing Reviews of Band of Brothers focus on the critics opinions of HIM, not the men of Easy:

Drivel.
Pure drivel. If one wishes the honest re-telling of history & not self-serving distortion or histrionic hyperbole, stay away from Stephen Ambrose. After reading a few of his books I crown him the Jackie Collins of historical fiction. Why one star? It’s the lowest rating they offer.

…and:

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but skip the book and rent the movie.

…and:

Mr. Ambrose barely gets the reader involved. His recounting of a heroic bayonet charge, or an assault down a fire swept causeway, gives the reader as much feeling for what it was like as me describing my breakfast with the phrase “I ate breakfast.”

…and:

…this poorly-researched book offers little more than the standard episode of the old TV series COMBAT! …Unfortunately from the viewpoint of historical accuracy, the book is hopelessly riddled with errors, exaggerations and vicious slander.

…and:

The writing was high school quality, a poor job by the editors (apparently the atomic bomb was “dripped” on Hiroshima)…

…and a hat tip to my favorite WWII movie, Battleground (1949):

If you would like to read a WW II novel about an airborne regiment written by the Easy Company Public Relations man, this is your book. I suggest saving your time, rent Battleground, and call it a day.

Scathing Book Reviews of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

A People’s History of the United Statesby Howard Zinnwas introduced to me in an interesting manner. I took a course on Documentary Film taught by a former 60’s radical (not exaggerating) who had us watch plenty of Soviet era documentaries and left leaning films. The assigned book? “People’s History”. For a film course. Can you tell that this was at an American University? Oh well, in the Film Genre course at least we got to watch The Green Berets. Unfortunately, we also had to watch Battleship Potemkinwhich was I’ll grant you, innovative for its time, but tedious today and more than a little intellectually dishonest.

Anyway, American History can be a messy business and our forefathers certainly made their share of mistakes and committed sins aplenty. A book that recounts these flaws certainly belongs in libraries, though perhaps not in the Kids Section as a Comic book… er Graphic Novel.but it doesn’t mean you have to like how it was written. Zinn never seriously attempts to compare the history of the USA to other nations (yeah, I know about the first chapter and that ain’t quite enough, thank you), and seems content to merely throw brickbats at Uncle Sam without any attempt at objectivity. That’s fine in a book of political philosophy, but History Books are supposed to make some attempt at objectivity, and I’ll reckon that this book’s major sales occur in college bookstores where you’re forced to buy it.

Is criticism worthwhile? Sure, but Zinn is like the loudmouthed relative at the dinner table, complaining about the food, while wolfing it down. These “People’s” Scathing Reviews of A People’s History of the United States think Zinn’s thin on thought:

The good: It’s easy to read. The bad: It’s pure revisionist historical pap.

…and:

This book was so biased I had to cut off two legs of my chair in order to stay upright.

…and:

The only good thing about this book was the 700+ pages I used as firestarter while on a camping trip.

…and:

One rarely gets to a truly vile piece of political writing, but this has to rank with MEIN KAMPF and THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO as one of the most bloodthirsty pieces of ideological and intellectual violence ever rendered on the printed page.

…and:

For all the low-brow types out there: this book blew chunks!

…and:

What is considered vice by most historians – politically motivated inaccuracies, long-winded rants, convenient omissions, substituting partisanship for objectivity – is transformed into virtue by Zinn.

…and:

Ok, Howie, OK, I get it: USA bad, everyone else good.

…and:

This book was written for white upper-middleclass yups who want to feel a tinge of guilt at their wine-tasting parties!!!!

…and:

If Zinn is unfamiliar with the usage of footnotes, his publisher should have clued him in.

…and:

Unfortunately, there is so much crucial information left out of this book, that is it absolutely useless as a reference for Amerian History. I am sure however, that Joesph Stalin would find it quite amusing…

…and:

If you’re a red-diaper baby who hates America, Mr. Zinn’s book is right up your alley. Truly an idiotarian manifesto.

…and from the department of incoherency:

Unlike most scholars, Zinn is not afraid to rely on sources other scholars, agents of elite rule all, shy from under the guise that those sources are “illegitimate.” Well, readers of “Ranger Rick” , “Krosswords for Kids”, “Tasty Treats You Can Make in a Microwave” and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will recognize many familiar ideas in what Eric Foner would have called “Zinn’s Magnum Opus” were Foner not so adverse to using Latin and/or afraid that people might think he has a thing for Tom Selleck (a Reagan supporter). We have no evidence that Foner has a thing for Tom Selleck, but I think it more than fair to conclude that if he did, Selleck would not reciprocate.