Steed's debut nonfiction title is an elegant, poetic history delving into the mysterious people of the Moor in western England.

The volume begins with chapter-by-chapter accounts of the generations who lived on the Moor over the course of 20 centuries, beginning with those who fought against, and subsequently fell to, Roman occupation. Steed tracks how isolated, decentralized tribes advanced and unified over hundreds of years. This section, though chronological, presents the reader with many overlying themes, such as the tensions and innovations created by the church. The second part of the book takes a more in-depth look at the mid-Victorian era. This pivotal generation saw challenges and advancements on the moor like no time before or arguably since. Set against the backdrop of an increasing stratification of society, many issues are particularly apt to modern readers, like how to best help the poor, the broadening availability of education and the challenges of health care in a unified society. The final act of the book adds interesting commentary for readers, analyzing societal pressures and their effects—and how this idea plays out in history. Steed's examination of themes like personal narrative sheds light on the power and limits of a one-dimensional view of history. His ability to create significance through history without overburdening the past with contrived meaning is the strongest aspect of this title. The book is thoroughly sourced in a scholarly style, but continuous numbering throughout the volume, rather than by chapter, creates awkward fumbling when searching for citations. Steed uses an appropriate number of maps, photos and charts to support the text, and he provides a handy list of these figures alongside the table of contents. Most photos and tables are highly effective; the few maps, however, are woefully amateur. For a book that covers so much ground, Steed offers a perfect balance of thoroughness and pace. A compelling history that speaks to the present day and the powers and pitfalls of looking to the past.  


Pub Date: April 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456776879

Page Count: 388

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?