HORSES OF WAR

A deft hand with adventures in exotic places (Katmandu in The Heights of Rimring, 1981; a flooded mountain mine in Level Five, 1982), Hart-Davis here follows the trek of an English horse-trainer as he leads two prize stallions 600 miles to safety through the carnage of the early days of the Russian Revolution. Through flashbacks, the author reconstructs the early life of Englishman Joseph Clements: a runaway orphan who loves horses and is finally given stable work; a happy roustabout with a kind family of circus people; and at last an exerciser in a famous stud-farm, where occasionally royal horses are stabled. There's a racing career, then finally the big prize—in 1912 he's hired, from another post in Russia, by a distant cousin of the Tsar, to oversee the construction of a large thoroughbred stud farm, a lovely place beyond St. Petersburg. There, he falls in love with the Prince's daughter Katya, who returns his love. But in the family absence, the Bolshevik threat becomes a reality, and Clements knows that the farm and horses are doomed. Clements begins his terrible journey with two stallions through brutal weather and the slaughter of people and animals. He's rescued at one point by officers of the English RAF. Clements will load the stallions on their train, and- -although a gentle man who'll do all he can for suffering animals- -he'll take up a gun with his countrymen. Before the happy/tragic close, Joseph is reunited with Katya and leaves behind chaos, death—and love. Like all fictional versions of desperate journeys, the trek itself carries its own suspense, and, here, there are convincing, evocative views of old Russia and some solid horse-talk.

Pub Date: May 14, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-07787-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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...

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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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