A highly specialized but informative study.

THE ENEMY AT THE GATE

HABSBURGS, OTTOMANS AND THE BATTLE FOR EUROPE

Historian Wheatcroft (Centre for Publishing Studies/Univ. of Stirling; Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, 2004, etc.) presents a blow-by-blow account of the Siege of Vienna of 1683.

Determined to “bring all people under Ottoman rule and under the authority of Islam,” Sultan Mehmed IV, along with his Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, gathered their vast army—comprised of ferocious Tartars, janissaries and Balkan riders—and marched on Vienna, the seat of Christianity and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. The Ottomans might well have succeeded if the Germans and Polish cavalry hadn’t come to the Habsburgs’ rescue. Wheatcroft demonstrates a scholarly command of this multifaceted area of history, carefully sifting through the evidence on both sides, Western and Eastern. He dutifully chronicles the two-month showdown, which ended in the rout of the Turks by military leaders such as Prince Eugene of Savoy, Charles of Lorraine and Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg. While the Habsburg defenses’ were vulnerable, weakened by the Thirty Years’ War, the leaders were strong, the tactics effective and the Viennese stronghold substantial. Their outright fear of the enemy—“Turkish armies were terrifying to behold”—proved instrumental as well. In contrast, the Ottomans, under the vainglorious Vizier, underestimated the Habsburg strengths and could not control their own manpower; their confidence in victory proved “delusional.” Wheatcroft does a fine job marshaling much of the available new research, emphasizing the role of Hungary as “the battleground in the confrontation between two great empires.”

A highly specialized but informative study.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-465-01374-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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