Wrapped in well-researched history and presented in exemplary prose, this elegy of a lost time recalls the verse of Wilfred...

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THE ENGLISHMAN’S DAUGHTER

A TRUE STORY OF LOVE AND BETRAYAL IN WORLD WAR I

A small tale extracted from the annals of the “War to End All Wars,” by historical biographer Macintyre (The Napoleon of Crime, 1997, etc.), proves powerful and evocative.

As the guns of August 1914 echoed in Picardy, some British Tommies became separated from their units, the King's Own Lancasters, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and the Royal Hampshires. Left behind to be hidden by the townspeople of Villeret were four private soldiers, including the dashing Robert Digby. The gallant French villagers cared for “their Englishmen” for nearly two years under German occupation, which was frequently brutal. Eventually, the soldiers were hidden in plain sight disguised as peasants, and for a while the war seemed to forget them. Handsome Pvt. Digby and the prettiest girl in town became lovers and soon were the parents of a splendid baby girl. But as the Boche settled in, the gallantry of the people of Villeret was inevitably strained. The four servicemen were betrayed, captured, and executed. Finally, Villeret itself was obliterated. It's a simple story, but Macintyre reports it beautifully. In his hands, the tale of hidden warriors also serves as a portrait of the French countryside and its people during the Great War. Macintyre lucidly depicts the gossip, the cooperation, the courage, and the final treachery of Villeret and its inhabitants. In a coda, he ventures to identify the probable informant. He even offers, with scant evidence, an important reason for Digby's reluctance to attempt a return to his lines as soon as he might have. That singular reportorial leap, however, does not detract from the fundamental merits of a humane and enticing text.

Wrapped in well-researched history and presented in exemplary prose, this elegy of a lost time recalls the verse of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke. (2 maps, 8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-12985-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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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