More fine work from a stylish and cultured writer with a hungry, open curiosity, a knack for compressing without...



The off-the-path travel author (Lost Worlds, 1993, etc.) spends a ripe year in the boot of Italy.

Yeadon takes readers into the heart and ways of Aliano, an old hilltop village in the region known as Basilicata, way down south. Not quite as “remarkably unexplored” as Yeadon would have it—the settlement can trace its roots back to the sixth-century b.c.—it’s still a wild place, not without its pagan aspects, full of the unexpected, the troubling, the wonderful. What was that howl he heard when the moon was full, that rustling in the deserted rooms of a rain-racked ghost town, and who was that ancient woman who got his broken-down car to start one night by a laying of hands on the motor? For insights into the mysteries of the place, Yeadon turns frequently to the writings of Carlo Levi, the anti-fascist author of Christ Stopped at Eboli, who was sent into internal exile in Aliano by Mussolini. But he also consults a fine company of locals, from the maker of excellent bricks to the seller of excellent sardines and the men and women with a hand for cooking. They tell him stories, they explain a widow’s obligations, they usher him, haltingly, into the archaic and animistic. Yeadon will visit, and describe in leisurely detail, cave dwellings, a cathedral from the 13th century, and a handful of improbable hilltop villages; he will eat wild-boar stew, and he will find a town “still mysterious and elusively tied to a darker age and deeper pagani touchstones of knowledge and belief.” Remarkably, for Yeadon is practically defined by his restlessness, Aliano makes him sit awhile and feed his many interior selves.

More fine work from a stylish and cultured writer with a hungry, open curiosity, a knack for compressing without diminishing, and an unfettered love for life and serendipity. (46 line drawings)

Pub Date: July 16, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-053110-X

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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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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