1985

An essay on Orwell's novel 1984; then Burgess' own stab—in the form of a novella—at adjusting the prophecy in Orwell's book to more likely scenarios. The essay? 1984 is "basically a comic transcription of the London of the end of World War Two"—Orwell's rather nostalgic English-cozy socialism coming face to face with (and affronted by) the vulgarity of the working classes. An interesting notion that might stir some controversy. Then Mr. B. has his go. 1985 London is an almost totally Arab-financed city ("They owned Al-Dorchester, Al-Klaridge's, Al-Browns, various Al-Hiltons and Al-Idayinns") yet is continually plagued by general strikes at the hands of unions gone wild with power: "holistic syndicalism." Learning is passe; juvenile delinquents learn classical Greek as a gesture of defiance against society. Bev Jones, a former history professor turned candy-factor worker, loses his wife in a hospital fire that striking firemen (and back-up Army troops) refuse to fight. Disgusted, enraged, he vows to quit the factory union; he's blackballed, put out of work, soon arrested, and eventually institutionalized. When a counterforce develops (the "Free British Army"), it turns out merely to be an Arab bid for total takeover. Bev finds liberty only in suicide. Libertarian in outlook, cartoony in shape, this novella has the charm of curiosity; but as with so much Burgess, it gets snagged in the groove of its cleverest idea and really succeeds only as an attractively trivial literary-boutique item.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0316116513

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1978

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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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