THE PROUD TOWER

A PORTRAIT OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE WAR, 1890-1914

In her most ambitious book to date, Barbara Tuchman (The Zimmerman Telegram — 1958, The Guns of August — 1962) profiles the world as it was in the years that led to WWI. In her Foreword, the author says of the era, "We have been misled by the people of the time themselves who in looking back across the gulf of the War, see that earlier half of their lives misted over by a lovely sunset haze of peace and security." Her research clearly shows that the seeds of hatred and violence were growing in the political realities which had not yet forced discomfort upon the most privileged classes. As in The Guns of August, her fascination for those who managed power is evident. No memoir or biography seems to have been overlooked for the most significant quotation or incident revealing the man behind the political or the social situation. Eight long sections take the reader around the world from England to Austria, to the United States, to France, to Germany, to the Hague and through the beginnings of socialism in England and on the Continent. The time span for each goes from the fermenting 1890's to the eve of the debacle in 1914. Readers familiar with her earlier books know how well the author writes and organizes her material. This, plus the continuing interest in WWI, will add to the ready readership for this book, which may not have quite the shotgun appeal of her biggest success.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1965

ISBN: 0345405013

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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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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