A highly thorough yet refreshingly concise examination of the follies and failures of the great peace of Nov. 11, 1918. A...

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A WORLD ON EDGE

THE END OF THE GREAT WAR AND THE DAWN OF A NEW AGE

A unique look at the end of World War I from a vast array of nationalities.

The war was fought by empires and their subjects in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. From the Czechs desperate for their own homeland to the Arabs who gained freedom from the Ottoman Empire, the end of the war delivered fulfillment, postponement, and desperation. Schönpflug (History/Free Univ., Berlin; co-editor: Gender History in a Transnational Perspective: Networks, Biographies, Gender Orders, 2014, etc.) offers a cogent, illuminating narrative based on an astounding amount of research. He includes minutiae such as the birth of the poppy as well as the end of a host of empires—Ottoman, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and German—and he deftly incorporates numerous individual reactions to the first days of peace, including that of Harry Truman. As the author ably demonstrates, the conceptions of peace among the Allies were widely varied. France demanded draconian reparations, as opposed to Woodrow Wilson’s lofty ideals. The English and other Europeans, constrained by traditions and their vassals, proposed more viable solutions. Wilson’s Fourteen Points, particularly national self-determination, encouraged people like the Irish, Vietnamese, Indians, Czechs, and Syrians and frightened the empires who guarded their holdings—however, their hope was to be postponed. Germany was without a viable government, and the Allies refused to supply food until there was a democratically elected government. Since Berlin was rife with revolutionary movements, this was nearly impossible. The author also checks in on contemporary artists and writers such as Paul Klee, Georges Grosz, and Virginia Woolf, who all expressed disappointment and rage at the circumstances around them. “Instead of bringing about the peace so passionately longed for,” writes Schönpflug, “the bitter struggle for a better future only brought new violence and claimed millions of new victims.”

A highly thorough yet refreshingly concise examination of the follies and failures of the great peace of Nov. 11, 1918. A must for World War I collections.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-762-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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