A refreshing draught for Irish aficionados, but not as serious as the subtitle suggests.

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A PINT OF PLAIN

HOW THE IRISH PUB LOST ITS MAGIC BUT CONQUERED THE WORLD

An American goes on a sentimental journey seeking an authentic pub in Ireland.

Barich (A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish, 2006, etc.) has been in thrall to the idea of Irishness since seeing John Ford’s The Quiet Man. Ireland, to his thinking, is still a land where people cultivate the fun to be had amid friendly conversation at the center of social life, the pub. An Irish pub is a gentle, polite and good-humored place. More importantly, it imparts a strong sense of community and shared values. But the Irish pub of Barich’s imagination, already an illusion, is quickly giving way to the realities of globalization. Irishness now has more clout outside the Emerald Isle than it does within. Italy has the greatest growth per capita of Irish pubs, while England is the largest consumer of Guinness, with Nigeria in second place. Meanwhile, pubs in Ireland are closing, though a good 12,000 are still in business. Economic forces are putting pressure on the local, the particular and the unique. Fewer pubs are run by families and as they fade, so do their traditions. Barich's quest, born of nostalgia and fueled by a deep love of Irish literature and humor, is beleaguered by anxiety over the rapid pace of change and disappointed by the vexing paradoxes of authenticity. The author takes us around Dublin and then out to the countryside to find the “perfect local.” He fails often, yet succeeds in ways that are surprising. Barich weaves bits of social, political and literary history into his travelogue, but his premise remains thin. Even so, the author wins us over with his delicious sense of humor, stylish storytelling and abundant affection for Ireland and its people.

A refreshing draught for Irish aficionados, but not as serious as the subtitle suggests.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1701-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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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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