Not the last, but for now the best, word on a subject basic to American and Caribbean history. (41 b&w illustrations,...




An important scholarly study of how the major colonies of the British West Indies, by not seeking independence alongside the mainland colonies in 1776, contributed to the outcome of the American Revolution.

We tend to forget that 13 British colonies in the Western Hemisphere (those in the Caribbean) did not join the 13 others (those on the continent to the north) in the great 18th-century war for independence from Great Britain. Why? Most historians have cited the islands' vulnerability to British naval attack if they rebelled, their dependence on British markets for their sugar crops, and planters' fear of slave insurrections. O'Shaughnessy (Univ. of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) greatly amplifies these reasons in this comprehensive survey of a question whose answer is necessary for a full understanding of the success of the American revolutionary war. This is the first effort to bring together in a single volume what we know so far about the islands' resistance to rebellion, how their defense by the British siphoned off resources from fighting on the mainland, and how the Revolution's outcome forever affected the islands' history. O'Shaughnessy correctly makes much of the cultural affinities and political ties between the islands and their mother country—ties much stronger than those of most North American colonies. But he doesn't neglect economic or military factors and deftly outlines the divisions within and between the islands about the course to take. Those who might wish for what might have been—independent island nations—will be sobered by the weight of geography, demographics, and social norms that determined what turned out to be a history vastly different from our own, yet profoundly affecting it by helping make American independence possible.

Not the last, but for now the best, word on a subject basic to American and Caribbean history. (41 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-8122-3558-4

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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