The wealth of detail becomes somewhat tiresome, but fans of the genre will relish this chronicle from an insider’s...




Animated recollections of punk rock’s meteoric ascension in 1970s London.

In 1976, Thompson (I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto, 2008, etc.) was a teenager on the brink of finishing boarding school who spent most of his free time attending small rock shows and scouring local record shops for new singles. That May, American Patti Smith’s incendiary deconstruction of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, followed by live performances in London, ignited the British punk movement, which the author fervently followed. Thompson’s history finds its backbone in the legendary antics of the Sex Pistols, whose arc of success corresponds loosely to the 16 months covered here. A large supporting cast surrounds the central story, notably the Pistol’s shrewd manager, Malcolm McLaren, and the band’s stiffest competition, the Damned. The author, who attended a seemingly endless number of shows during this period, lovingly recounts the history, music and performances of many acts, including the Stranglers, the Adverts, the Maniacs, Rikki and the Last Days of Earth and many more. While punk enthusiasts may note a few omissions—there’s relatively little on the Clash, almost nothing on Wire—this is a personal history, and the highlighted acts are specific to Thompson’s life and tastes. Throughout the narrative, he deftly interweaves his own experiences, from life on the dole to violent race riots, to ground readers in the depressed cultural soil from which punk’s rank flowers grew. Reggae and American punk also make appearances via rich descriptions of concerts by the Ramones and Iggy Pop, as well as a frightening narrative of the Mighty Diamonds’ failure at England’s famed Reading festival.

The wealth of detail becomes somewhat tiresome, but fans of the genre will relish this chronicle from an insider’s perspective.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55652-769-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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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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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