A book for all lovers of ancient history, with something to learn or love on nearly every page.

CAESAR'S FOOTPRINTS

A CULTURAL EXCURSION TO ANCIENT FRANCE: JOURNEYS THROUGH ROMAN GAUL

A stimulating history of “how the Roman transformation of Gaul laid the foundations of modern Europe.”

Omrani (Classics/Westminster School, England; Asia Overland: Tales of Travel on the Trans-Siberian & Silk Road, 2010, etc.) displays the facility of a poet, waxing eloquent on the beauty of sites where the Roman influence in Gaul forcefully asserted itself. This book is as much a travelogue as it is a wonderfully simplified lesson on Julius Caesar and his successors. The author effectively shows the full effects of the Roman occupation. The warlike, feuding Gauls had a culture of raiding, so they needed to expand further afield. They attacked Rome in 390 B.C.E., the only sack until Alaric arrived in 410 C.E. Caesar had no intention of expanding the Roman Empire; he was in search of military glory, amassing money and access to more manpower for his army. Initially, the Romans were not at all engaged in nation-building. Thousands of Gauls were killed or enslaved, the land devastated, and their culture obliterated—at least what we know of their culture since we only have Caesar’s reports to go on. With their lands divided, the Gallic peoples turned to defining themselves, taking the best of Rome as needed. As the author notes, while the foundations of the French state are to be found in Clovis, the origins of the French people lie before Caesar with the Gauls. Omrani takes us to Roman ruins in many French cities, most of which have public structures, statues, and inscriptions illustrating the Romanitas (Roman-ness) displayed by the Gallic elites to flaunt their wealth and status. After such a thrilling adventure, the author may leave readers wanting more. His electric excitement is consistently contagious as he glories in the unique history of France as she connects to her Roman past.

A book for all lovers of ancient history, with something to learn or love on nearly every page.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-566-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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