An immensely readable, richly detailed and sometimes disturbing chronicle that explores much of the darkness in the City of...




A compelling history of the city on the Seine.

Hussey (Comparative Literature/Univ. of London; The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord, 2001, not reviewed) observes that once humans arrived in Europe, the site on the Seine appears to have been continuously occupied. He discusses the Romans and their predecessors (Julian was the first to call the place “Paris,” for the Parisii—of Celtic origin—who once lived there) and takes us through centuries of ensuing history in entertaining and enlightening fashion. All the familiar names are here: Clovis, Sainte Geneviève, Charlemagne, Abélard and Héloïse, the Charleses and Francises and Henris and Louises (Louis XVI was, says Hussey, “a man without qualities” with a “silly Austrian wife”), Napoleon, de Gaulle. And countless artists, novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers and prostitutes. Hussey sees the ancient conflict between ideas and desires as key to understanding the city. He guides us through important French poetry, novels, films, music—but also along the rivers of blood running in the streets in just about every century. He examines the long history of North Africans, Jews and other immigrants to the city. He wonders at the foul collaborations of many Parisians with the Nazis. Throughout, he endeavors mightily to focus on ordinary life, but he spends much time recalling the city’s cultural history, as well—e.g., the building of Notre Dame, the arrival of the railway and Metro.

An immensely readable, richly detailed and sometimes disturbing chronicle that explores much of the darkness in the City of Lights.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59691-323-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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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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