Not definitive, but enjoyable for the author’s evocative response to a great city.




An affectionate, richly allusive tribute to the city the author first encountered in books as a child and finally visited in person in her early 40s.

Part of a series that links noted writers with their favorite cities, these are personal observations and reminiscences rather than comprehensive travel guide. Like many readers of Dickens, columnist/novelist Quindlen (Loud and Clear, p. 121, etc.) expected London to be foggy and squalid and was surprised by the quite different contemporary reality: gentrified row-houses face tended squares; notorious Southwark, once the site of the debtors’ prison where the Dickens family was incarcerated, is the site of the Tate Modern; and daylight formerly blackened by coal fires now charms with its “silver-gilt quality.” No literary snob, the author seeks out the houses in which Galsworthy’s Forsytes were supposed to reside as enthusiastically as she looks for the places Dickens immortalized, and though she makes frequent allusions to literary figures like Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen, whose books are set in London, she doesn’t neglect such popular authors as P.D. James and Elizabeth George, whose mysteries often take place there. Quindlen pays the obligatory but disappointing pilgrimage to Sherlock Holmes’s block of Baker Street, where an anonymous office building now stands; she muses on the differences between American and British English; and she highlights the changes wrought by immigrants to the city as she notes the ethnic isolation of the characters in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, to whom historical London is a foreign country. She recalls the adolescent pleasure of reading the then-shocking Forever Amber as well as Georgette Heyer’s popular novels of debauched Regency bucks and penniless beauties. Quindlen is an unabashed Anglophile, entranced as much by London’s literature as its history; she mentions for example that the German bombardment during WWII destroyed Paternoster Row, the home of numerous British publishing houses.

Not definitive, but enjoyable for the author’s evocative response to a great city.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7922-6561-0

Page Count: 184

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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