Amateurish, sure, but if with this, Fields can turn America’s attention from entertainment gossip to Shakespeare, more power...

PLAYERS

THE SHAKESPEARE MYSTERY

Hollywood entertainment lawyer Fields (Royal Blood, 1998; aka D. Kincaid, The Lawyer’s Tale, 1992, etc.) dabbles in literary criticism by sifting through the elusive evidence of Shakespeare’s probable identity, in a compelling work for the lay reader, woefully lacking in documentation.

Two puzzling identities fail to square in this long-standing literary mystery: The “Stratford man,” as Fields calls him, who hailed from provincial Stratford-upon-Avon, probably didn’t receive more than a grammar school education, married young and left his family to become an actor of some repute in London before returning home to die in relative obscurity in 1616; and the author of the Shakespeare canon, who demonstrated a vast knowledge of foreign lands, history, languages, military and legal affairs, and arcane and insider usages available only to the aristocracy. Patiently, Fields lines up the key issues in the debate—the Stratford man’s will, the mysteriously funded Stratford monument, the publication of the First Folio in 1623—and attacks them from both sides, the “Stratfordians” versus the “anti-Strats,” scholars who’ve been obsessed with this very matter throughout the centuries and whom Fields names occasionally, though without offering specific works or notes. After a blazing excursus through Stuart Tudor history, he examines the evidence of what the Stratford man knew versus what Shakespeare knew, the Stratford man’s nearly illiterate handwriting, the sexual orientations of the two, and their “outlook” on religion, politics and life in general. The Stratford man makes a poor showing, indeed, and though Fields claims to withhold judgment until all the evidence is in, he makes a most striking case for Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. He also presents cogent chapters on other plausible candidates, even Queen Elizabeth. His theory of the true authorship is dazzling but fails to consider how, with so many conspirators in the mix, the truth could have been kept from leaking.

Amateurish, sure, but if with this, Fields can turn America’s attention from entertainment gossip to Shakespeare, more power to him.

Pub Date: March 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-077559-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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