A knowledgeable, elegant account full of elaborate depictions, complete with a thorough bibliography.




A descriptive account of the people (both rebel and loyalist) and events that propelled the great rupture with Britain.

The period between the Boston Tea Party of December 1773 and the long siege of Boston in 1775 frames this finely delineated history of the buildup to revolution. Former Air Force officer and debut author Beck evidently relishes his subject, and he gives a fully fleshed portrait of the major patriots, both American and British. Dumping the tea in Boston Harbor was an act of destruction of private property, a notion no less sacred to the Americans than their liberty, and though many condemned the vandalism, the resistance to the tea duty had grown among the public as another instance of Parliament trying to “force-feed America a tax it had never consented to.” Fearful of the mob mentality that seemed to be brewing, Gen. Thomas Gage recommended to King George III that regiments earmarked for New York to keep order in Boston would be sufficient to render the Americans docile: they were “Lyons, whilst we are lambs,” he wrote. Little did he know the machinations already put in place by these “sly, artful, hypocritical rascalls [sic],” wrote Gen. Lord Percy of the rebels. Indeed, as Beck moves through the increasing lawlessness of the colonists, he points out the “ugly but very real side” to the American Revolution: “the American rebel seemed at times to take on the role of villain, turning the British into the victim.” The author explores the top-down intelligence network of Gage versus the grass-roots organization of the rebels, each effective in its own way. Beck’s description of the “spreading flames of rebellion” and the taking of the forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga is as engaging as fiction.

A knowledgeable, elegant account full of elaborate depictions, complete with a thorough bibliography.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-1395-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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