In this odd revisionist biography of Mussolini, Tokyo-based journalist and historian Hoyt (Now Hear This, 1993, etc. etc.) unconvincingly argues that the Fascist leader ``deserves a better rating than he has yet been given in the West.'' Elected prime minister after the 1922 ``March on Rome,'' Mussolini soon established Europe's first modern dictatorship. For years afterward—as Hoyt points out—he was respected throughout the world for the efficiency he brought to Italy. Hoyt cannot, however, argue away the brutality of Mussolini's regime or the ruthlessness of the man himself. Mussolini's Fascist ideology and militant Italian nationalism were, like the Socialism he embraced earlier in life, mere vehicles for the achievement of personal power. Hoyt documents Mussolini's adulterous behavior, which on at least one occasion interfered with affairs of state. Hoyt also traces Mussolini's failed attempts at entente with France and Britain, his fateful decisions to expand his empire in Africa, and his entry into WW II at the side of Adolf Hitler. Reverses in the war led to the 1943 fall of Mussolini's regime and his 1945 execution by Communist partisans. Hoyt tries to rehabilitate Mussolini, but makes several factual errors (for instance, he states that Neville Chamberlain was the son of Austen Chamberlain, and puts Somalia in North Africa) and too many startling conclusions (among other things, he flatly asserts that Hitler sincerely sought disarmament, and argues that non-secret elections in Fascist Italy were an accurate reflection of the will of the Italian people). Hoyt adds nothing to our knowledge of Mussolini and, though claiming to take a fresh look at Il Duce, seems only to confirm that he was a repugnant figure whose rule was a disaster for Italy.

Pub Date: March 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-471-59151-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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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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