An outstanding book of travel and history.

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HUNGRY FOR HOME

LEAVING THE BLASKETS: A JOURNEY FROM THE EDGE OF IRELAND

A somber, gracefully written evocation of a place that has been called the most beautiful spot on earth.

Debut author Moreton is, he is quick to say, neither Irish nor American, but instead an English journalist who stumbled on a good story while on an Irish holiday. That story was the long, sorrowful history of the Blasket Islands, the most distant of which, Tieracht, is “a jagged pyramid of rocks . . . which was said to provide the last sight of Ireland for ships heading to America.” The Blaskets sheltered a small population of fishermen and herders who retained medieval customs well into the 20th century and who, speaking a pure strain of Irish, “had a divine gift for the spoken word and an ability to recall the events of ancient times as though they had happened yesterday.” This linguistic and narrative prowess did not keep the people from starvation and want, however. When a young islander collapsed and died on Christmas Eve 1946, far away from any priest or doctor, the residents of Great Blasket (which lacked even a working radio) demanded that the Irish government provide aid to improve their lot. Although, Moreton writes, Irish President Eamon de Valera and several parliamentarians took up their cause, in the end they offered little more than words. A couple of years later, the people of Great Blasket and the surrounding islets decided to abandon the place, as if it had betrayed them one time too many. Some of those islanders moved to the mainland; many others moved to America, where they and their descendants nurse dreams of returning to the Blaskets, which are still little visited today.

An outstanding book of travel and history.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-89207-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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