In a biography written to mark the 40th anniversary of Elizabeth II's accession to the throne, British journalist Keay tells you all you can want to know about the monarch without offering any illuminating insights of his own. Queen Elizabeth has been served by nine prime ministers (the first was Winston Churchill), has seen Britain decline in power, headed a Commonwealth made up of countries as far-flung and diverse as Nigeria and the Falkland Islands, and has had to cope with divorce and separations within her own, very visible, family. All this should make for a rich biography, but the queen is still the queen, and, with her advisors, closely guards her privacy—which means that Keay must rely on often unattributed gossip and old sources in telling Elizabeth's story. We do learn that the monarch is a bit of a tightwad; that she is pragmatic, has a dry sense of humor, does not forgive those who have offended her, and is not amused by the antics of her daughters-in-law. Elizabeth apparently cares tremendously about the Commonwealth, which ``she sees almost in sentimental terms as a family of nations which offers the rest of the world an example of informal unity,'' and she is considered to have influenced Margaret Thatcher to expedite independence for Zimbabwe. Elizabeth's long reign, Keay says, has given her an unequalled continuity of experience that she draws on in weekly meetings with the prime minister, whom legally she can only advise, encourage, and warn. It is unlikely, the author argues, that she will abdicate in favor of Prince Charles. Keay concludes that, despite some rocky times, the Royal Family is now as much a beloved national treasure as an invaluable institution of governance. More anecdotal than analytical, and written in less-than- sparkling prose: for hard-core royalty fans only. (Sixteen-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-07776-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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