Excellent, well-presented evidence of the incalculable strengths and abilities of women to create and run a country.



In the final volume of the Resistance Quartet, Moorehead (A Bold and Dangerous Family, 2017) continues her work exalting the women of World War II who saved their countries from fascism.

The author now turns to the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and the city of Turin, which was a hotbed of fascism but also the epicenter of the resistance. Moorehead relies heavily on the diaries of participant Ada Gobetti, who, along with Bianca Serra, Frida Malan, and Silvia Pons, formed a core group within the thousands of women who drove the resistance from 1943 to 1945. Under 20 years of Mussolini’s rule, women were expected to be submissive and produce children. “One of the key beliefs in Fascist ideology,” writes the author, “was that men and women were inherently different.” But being ignored as insignificant made them perfect couriers and concealers of messages, escapees, and arms. These women, who produced underground newspapers, led strikes, and transported escapees, were crucial to the resistance, and Moorehead clearly delineates their determination and heroism throughout the exciting narrative. After Mussolini’s fall, Italy secured an armistice with the Allies, but the Germans moved in to take over the country. Thus, a multifaceted war began, but was it civil war, a war of liberation, or a class war? With multiple governments and armies, it was chaotic. The Italian army had little leadership, and most of the soldiers abandoned their posts. With more than 100,000 disbanded soldiers, it fell to the women to help. In the Piedmont hills, a dozen separate groups eventually winnowed down to a six-party coalition while help from the Allies was difficult to find. Turin’s Liberation Day, April 26, 1945, was organized by the women of the resistance and featured a complete stoppage of factories, trams, courts, and shops. The partisan groups, men and women, quickly established government offices and handled expected reprisals. This is a highly satisfying conclusion to the author’s series.

Excellent, well-presented evidence of the incalculable strengths and abilities of women to create and run a country.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-268635-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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