An entirely rewarding history of a Europe-based struggle that “influenced the course of events across the globe.”




A doorstop history of the series of wars that represented “a contest of great powers on a truly global scale.”

Mikaberidze (European History/Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport; Burning of Moscow: Napoleon’s Trial by Fire 1812, 2014, etc.) stresses that although the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted from 1792 to 1815, were not the first truly worldwide conflicts, their scale “dwarfed” those that came before. Taken together, they became the “Great War” until a greater one broke out in 1914. “In his efforts to achieve French hegemony,” writes the author, “Napoleon indirectly became the architect of independent South America, reshaped the Middle East, strengthened British imperial ambitions, and contributed to the rise of American power.” Scholars have not ignored the war’s global reach, but Mikaberidze turns up plenty of obscure campaigns in a massive history that emphasizes politics over battlefield fireworks, and he delivers the information in lucid, opinionated prose that will keep the pages turning. The conflict began when France’s Legislative Assembly, “fired up by revolutionary enthusiasm” and convinced they faced an “immense foreign conspiracy,” declared war on Austria and Prussia. Although proclaiming that their armies were defending freedom and would be welcomed with open arms across Europe, French victories were so satisfying that they became an end in themselves, even before Napoleon arrived on the scene. Similarly, their opponents denounced the revolution but gave national interests—trade, territory, money—priority over ideology. The revolutionary-era national interests of Russia, Prussia, Austria, Britain, Spain, and America are no secret to educated readers, and many will have a passing acquaintance with the travails of Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire. The painful experience (or even the existence) of Persia may come as a jolt, but it occupies its own fascinating chapter. Major campaigns involved several still-unconquered Indian principalities, the East Indies, the West Indies, and South Africa. Meanwhile, Spain’s South American colonies fended off multiple British invasions.

An entirely rewarding history of a Europe-based struggle that “influenced the course of events across the globe.”

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-995106-2

Page Count: 864

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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