A remarkable and beautifully written book in which the rich stuff of family and local history join together to entertain, to...




Like the legendary stories his Newfoundland relatives told—stories that flowed back and forth, picking up after interruptions—Macfarlane offers a book in which personal memoir, history, and reflection on war all come together in one memorable, luminous whole.

Growing up in Canada, Macfarlane was soon aware of the great difference between his father's relations, who maintained silence ``with the same hospitable agility a graceful conversationalist uses to overcome it,'' and his mother's family from Newfoundland, who loved to talk ``in great looping circles.'' And it is these stories of the Goodyear family of Newfoundland, which Macfarlane recalls as he relates a family history, that are in many ways a history of Newfoundland itself. Until voting to join Canada in 1948, Newfoundland was Britain's oldest colony, and this decision, which the author's grandfather could never forgive, led to one of the great family stories, for the old man apparently once told the now-Queen, in Newfoundland on a visit, exactly what he thought. An integral part of Newfoundland, the Goodyears immigrated from the western coast of England in the early 18th century, living first in an isolated fishing village, then moving in 1908 to Grand Falls in the interior. Here, in this company town established to provide paper for one of Britain's great press-barons, they prospered, but, like so many loyal Newfoundlanders, the Goodyears were irrevocably affected by WW I. Two thirds of the Newfoundlanders who volunteered were either killed or wounded; the Goodyear family sent five sons, and only two returned. It is this war that resonates through Macfarland's story: the way in which the family and the island responded, and were then subsequently changed, describes a place and a people of fierce independence, courage and loyalty, who would never be quite the same again.

A remarkable and beautifully written book in which the rich stuff of family and local history join together to entertain, to instruct, and to move deeply.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-74705-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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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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