Lovers of intense research will enjoy this book. Readers with no sense of Indian history or geography and little...




A prolific chronicler of India, Allen (Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling, 2009, etc.) shows just how addictive the country can be.

The author’s delight is obvious as he investigates the search for the great Indian leader, Ashoka. This is not so much a biography as a chronicle of that quest, and the details of the search become tedious. India-born and descended from generations serving the British Raj, Allen is well-acquainted with the archaeological sites of the stupas, rock and pillar edicts and Elephant Rocks. Throughout the 19th century, the Asiatic Society of Bengal archived copies of the great edicts Ashoka ordered carved there. These massive tablets pictured his history, explained Buddhism and addressed schisms that occurred during his reign. His revolutionary edicts enabled Ashoka to conquer by Dharma, undermining the authority of the Brahman by calling for religious tolerance and the banning of animal sacrifice. In order to understand the edicts, the first job was to decipher the language as it evolved through a number of influences. Nowhere does Allen address the idea that few might have been able to read any language in the 3rd century B.C. Admittedly, many readers will have limited tolerance for the detailed etymology and philology of the Greek, Pakrit, Sanskrit and Pali names for sites and characters. The author has a wealth of material available in the writings of British, Indian and Chinese who came before, helping him to establish the beginnings of Buddhism and its spread throughout the subcontinent. Allen’s enthusiasm and love for India are obvious; his waxing eloquent over the 23 volumes of Archaeological Survey Reports by Alexander Cunningham indicates a devotion few of us could share.

Lovers of intense research will enjoy this book. Readers with no sense of Indian history or geography and little archaeological curiosity will get bored.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4683-0071-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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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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