Morton insists that Edward never really wanted to be king and implies that Simpson never wanted to marry him. A better book...



Morton (William & Catherine: Their Story, 2011, etc.) takes a break from his unauthorized biographies of the rich and famous to dig into the archives regarding the incompetent King Edward VIII and his American wife, Wallis Simpson.

The story is well-known: The Prince of Wales fell for a twice-married lady from Baltimore and eventually abdicated his throne for her. Edward was effectively banished by the new king, George VI, to avoid comparisons to his much more charismatic brother, and made the Duke of Windsor. This story is really about Edward and Simpson’s close ties to the Nazis, including a visit with Hitler. While still in England, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s special deputy who was mad for Wallis, became a fixture in their set. He convinced the king of Germany’s good intentions, strengthening Edward’s support of Hitler’s economic success. But Edward overstepped his position as king when he interfered in foreign relations, attempting to forestall war. The meat of the book doesn’t arrive until halfway through, during the duke’s stay in Spain and Portugal in 1940 on the way to his gubernatorial term in the Bahamas. Under Operation Willi, Germany planned to install Edward as a puppet dictator after England’s defeat, which nearly occurred as the British were evacuating Dunkirk. Edward was surely aware of the plan. He was indiscreet, irresponsible, defeatist, childish and naïve. Days before the end of the war, copies of communications among the Germans, Spanish and the Windsors were discovered in the Russian zone and quickly spirited away by the British. This evidence of his clear knowledge of the plan would have done irreparable damage to the British monarchy.

Morton insists that Edward never really wanted to be king and implies that Simpson never wanted to marry him. A better book would begin in Spain and focus on the damning papers, saving readers all the silly bits and innuendo of Simpson’s affairs.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2711-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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