A solid survey of almost two millennia of Greek history, full of both aspirations for national unity and constant civil...

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MODERN GREECE

A SHORT HISTORY

A comprehensive history of Greece from the reign of Constantine the Great to the end of the 20th century, written by former diplomat Woodhouse (The Struggle for Greece, 1941 – 1949, not reviewed).

Without falling prey to any pro- or anti-Greek political rhetoric, Woodhouse conducts an indiscriminate investigation of the factors that led first to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and then to the independence of Greece in the 1820s and subsequent conflicts. He demonstrates convincingly that the devastation of crusades on Constantinople contributed to long-term hostility between Eastern and Western Christendom, while the indifference of fellow Christian rulers to the destruction of Byzantium by the Turks made the Greeks' downfall inevitable. Woodhouse debunks many a myth about the Greeks' living conditions under the Ottoman Empire. While they (like all non-Muslims) had to pay special taxes, they enjoyed considerable freedom of religion, trade, and education. In fact, some Greek communities suffered more from their own Greek administrators than from Turkish oppressors. With Greek identity hard to define after years of dispersion, Greek independence resulted largely from the struggle for domination of the Balkans among external powers—mainly Russia, Britain, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. Left to its own devices, independent Greece often slipped into the chaos of civil wars, political instability, and corruption. Delving into the concept of enosis (union) and the present deadlock in Cyprus, Woodhouse traces the conflict to British blundering, Greek expansionist moods, the treachery of the Greek Cypriot government and a lack of good will on the part of mainland Greece and Turkey.

A solid survey of almost two millennia of Greek history, full of both aspirations for national unity and constant civil discord. The material is dense, saturated with dates and names, and will probably be a hard nut to crack for the average reader. It is also unfortunate that the author completely neglected the last decade of the 20th century, as he finishes his account with Papanderou's defeat in the 1989 elections.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-571-19794-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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