Francophiles will adore this book, and others may become Francophiles as they read.

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THE SEINE

THE RIVER THAT MADE PARIS

The veteran New York Times contributing writer and former Paris bureau chief shares her love affair with Paris and the Seine with enchanting anecdotes and insights.

Sciolino (The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, 2016, etc.), who has lived in Paris since 2002, presents more of a voyage than a history, from Burgundy to the sea, traveling the 483 miles on the river’s looping path from the Plateau de Langres to Honfleur and the English Channel. Along the way, the Seine is anchored by Paris and then Rouen, where it widens enough for oceangoing ships to reach the port of Le Havre. The source of the river is the underground springs where the Gauls worshiped the healing goddess Sequana, who, according to the author, is the true symbol of the river. Through the years, the river has been altered many times. Napoleon eliminated many of the islands to ease navigation, and he established the river as the center point for Paris’ street-numbering system. Baron Haussmann transformed the riverfront with bridges, locks, and dams as well as tree-shaded promenades. As we travel downriver with our genial guide, we note that the right side of the river symbolizes money, politics, scandal, and the power of the media while the left signifies freedom, liberty, free speech, and free sex. Throughout, Sciolino provides wonderful, detailed interviews of former barge people, houseboat dwellers, booksellers, and members of the River Brigade, which polices the river. The author also takes us into the world of the impressionists, and in Rouen, once the most important port, we find ancient windmills, Joan of Arc, and the place where Monet obsessed over the light on the cathedral. Then it’s on to Le Havre, the port created by François I in 1517, and finally, Honfleur, which “travel guides often refer to…as one of the prettiest towns in France.”

Francophiles will adore this book, and others may become Francophiles as they read.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-60935-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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