Thanks to Mayor’s scholarship, these fearsome fighters are attaining their historical respectability.

THE AMAZONS

LIVES AND LEGENDS OF WARRIOR WOMEN ACROSS THE ANCIENT WORLD

An encyclopedic study of the barbarian warrior women of Western Asia, revealing how new archaeological discoveries uphold the long-held myths and legends.

The famed female archers on horseback from the lands the ancient Greeks called Scythia appeared throughout Greek and Roman legend. Mayor (Classics and History of Science/Stanford Univ.; The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy, 2009, etc.) tailors her scholarly work to lay readers, providing a fascinating exploration into the factual identity underpinning the fanciful legends surrounding these wondrous Amazons. Members of nomadic cultures who inhabited the arid steppes in the regions above the Black Sea, Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea—extending from Thrace to Mongolia—the Amazons were raised in an egalitarian, horse-centered society in which the girls became “battle-hardened warriors who prized independence and repelled all would-be conquerors.” Though they left no written record, the archaeological discoveries in grave sites reveal their violent lifestyles: Clad in trousers and other clothing similar to that worn by men, they were buried with their horses, battle gear and children. Many of them died from combat injuries, and their corpses showed tattoos and bowed legs from horse riding. While there are known “Nart” sagas, such as a recent one translated from the Circassian language about a leader of nomadic women warriors, the best known stories are from the early Greeks—e.g., Homer and Herodotus, who first recorded the deeds of these “equals of men,” the allies of the Trojans led by Queen Penthesilea, who eventually battled Achilles and lost. Other famous Amazons included Queen Hippolyta, who was killed by Heracles to attain her Golden Girdle, thus setting off for the Athenians a terrible war with the Amazons. Mayor clears away much of the man-hating myths around these redoubtable warriors.

Thanks to Mayor’s scholarship, these fearsome fighters are attaining their historical respectability.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0691147208

Page Count: 504

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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