A deeply sympathetic look at the young author and his milieu.




Historian Allen (God’s Terrorists, 2005, etc.) chronicles the British author’s early years.

Allen is a particularly apt Kipling biographer—“I was born to write this book,” he writes—because his great-grandfather, George Allen, was one of the joint owners of the Indian newspapers Pioneer and Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), where the young Kipling was first employed as a journalist. Moreover, Allen’s formative years were spent amid a rich Anglo-Indian heritage and “Kiplingiana.” Here, Allen explores and illuminates the sources of Kipling’s early books, such as Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Soldiers Three (1888) and Life’s Handicap (1891). Born in Bombay to an impecunious émigré couple—noted illustrator and teacher John Lockwood Kipling and his artistic wife, Alice Macdonald—Kipling and his younger sister Trix enjoyed a princely early childhood under the lax supervision of parents and servants. However, in 1871, the family returned to England for furlough, and the siblings were deposited with a foster family in Southsea for what stretched into a five years’ abandonment at the dreaded place they would later call “House of Desolation.” Back in India, with Lockwood now relocated to Lahore, “Ruddy” spent ages 11 to 23 between there, Simla and Allahabad. During this time he absorbed and recorded the Islamic and Hindu cultures, caste system, Hot Weather imagery and follies of the British government and military hierarchy in hundreds of short stories, sketches and poems, many published in the Pioneer and CMG, where he worked from age 16 until his decision, in 1889, to return to England to further his career. All this material would later be refined beautifully in Kim (1901). Allen shares his intimate knowledge of this “man of permanent contradictions,” and fans of Kipling’s fiction will appreciate the loving attention Allen gives his work.

A deeply sympathetic look at the young author and his milieu.

Pub Date: March 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-60598-031-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pegasus

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...


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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