Dense but satisfying history of a time when “Britons were prodigiously energetic, industrious and creative, even as they...

VICTORIOUS CENTURY

THE UNITED KINGDOM, 1800-1906

The acclaimed British historian meticulously traces every aspect of Britain from the Act of Union (with Ireland) in 1800 until the 1906 landslide by the Liberal Party.

There is a danger of getting bogged down in the details, but diligent readers will find plenty of enlightenment here. British Academy president Cannadine (History/Princeton Univ.; Margaret Thatcher: A Life and Legacy, 2017, etc.) follows the period called the Pax Britannica, when Britain avoided military entanglements with European powers between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. England’s unique unwritten constitution provided the nation with an adaptable continuity while other nations were caught in the turmoil of revolution. In this period of tremendous upheaval in all the great European powers, Britain maintained government stability while engaging in unprecedented expansion. The Industrial Revolution and the Reform Act(s) enabled the country to wield a disproportionate influence over the affairs of the world. Revolutionary developments in industry and infrastructure encouraged population and agricultural booms as well as growth in the arts, writing in particular. However, at the same time, food prices rose, and exports were unreliable; there were bank panics and strikes by Luddites who feared the new mechanized looms. Of course, before all that could happen, England and other nations had to deal with Napoleon. By 1815, it had taken multiple coalitions of Dutch, German, Prussian, and Russian forces to defeat him. In the end, it was the Russian manpower and British economic advantage and naval supremacy that won the day. At that point, England had to pay the costs incurred in both the Napoleonic Wars and the American Revolution. Peace, new markets, income, property taxes, and customs and excise taxes helped tremendously. Territorial expansion was worldwide, with local governors deciding which areas to annex. Inevitably, the empire’s pre-eminence would buckle under its own far-flung reach. Ever adept, Cannadine shows us why and how it happened.

Dense but satisfying history of a time when “Britons were prodigiously energetic, industrious and creative, even as they were also in many ways a flawed and fallible people.”

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-55789-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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