A thorough, enjoyable collection which ably demonstrates Italy’s long reach.


Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World

This comprehensive book details the impact of the ancient, southern European country of Italy.

This is the third volume in a series that started with 2014’s All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded, about Laycock’s homeland of Great Britain, and was followed by Kelly and Laycock’s America Invades (2015). Now the duo tackles a country to which both feel connected, one whose history goes back millennia to ancient Rome. As Kelly explains in his introduction: “Italians are literally and figuratively an ‘outgoing’ people….From Marco Polo to Christopher Columbus, they have been some of the world’s greatest travelers, explorers, and adventurers.” As a result, there are few countries which Italy has not, at least theoretically, touched. For example, it even has a tenuous connection to the distant Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, where its military has taken part in joint exercises in recent years. Italy has an even greater impact on countries nearer to it, such as its neighbor, Austria; they “share a border, and they also share a lot of violent history with many invasions back and forth,” the authors note. In this volume, Kelly and Laycock have done meticulous research, and it all shows on the page. With names such as Columbus, Polo, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte appearing over and over again, the authors help readers to grasp the big global picture at any given point in time. They also single out Italian-Americans, especially in the military, and their roles in history. An added bonus is an appendix featuring a colorful journal entry by Kelly’s great-grandfather Thomas Tileston Wells, written during an ill-timed vacation to Europe at the outbreak of World War I. Overall, Kelly and Laycock have created a dense, readable compilation about a nation whose impact on global history is often underappreciated.

A thorough, enjoyable collection which ably demonstrates Italy’s long reach.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-94-059872-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Book Publishers Network

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

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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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