Great fun for anyone with even a slight knowledge of Roman and English history and geography—or those curious about them.

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THE EDGE OF THE EMPIRE

A JOURNEY TO BRITANNIA: FROM THE HEART OF ROME TO HADRIAN'S WALL

A delightful trip from Rome to Hadrian’s Wall—in C.E. 130.

On the surface, the book shouldn’t be that interesting: descriptions of roads long gone, cities renamed, and modes of transportation gladly forgotten. Still, classics scholar and guidebook author Riley (Great Yarmouth Row Houses and Greyfriars’ Cloister, 2011, etc.) has an impressive gift for travelogue. She tells the story of Sextus Julius Severus, the new governor of Britain, an imperial province as opposed to a mere senatorial one. Riley’s descriptions of the roads along her journey will make readers want to visit for themselves. At the mouth of the Tiber River is Portus Ostientis, built by Claudius to hold 400 ships, even the enormous grain ships from Alexandria. A quick sail to Narbonne and passage through one of the three Gauls proves to be a fairly comfortable trek with good roads and hotels. The author deftly tells of alternate routes—and their advantages and problems—to Oceanus, an “immeasurable expanse of sea full of monsters and unfathomable tides at the ends of the earth”—now known as the English Channel. In London, the author takes off on a remarkable story of the towns and roads of Britain in the year 130. The maps and descriptions of the route through London, Bath, Wales, and north to the wall are informative, scholarly, and colorful. Along the way, Riley also discusses the druids, curious offerings to the gods, curse tablets, Roman baths, and other archaeological findings. Of course, the tale of Hadrian’s Wall could make a book on its own, but the author has higher ambitions, and she achieves them in this successful evocation of “a journey to Britain in the Roman period.”

Great fun for anyone with even a slight knowledge of Roman and English history and geography—or those curious about them.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-129-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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