Crouzet-Pavan is an impressive conductor, making sprightly and complex music out of the myriad strains that shape Venice.

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VENICE TRIUMPHANT

THE HORIZONS OF A MYTH

A formidable reading of Venetian history—how Venetians imagined their artistic, architectural, commercial, and political uniqueness—from Crouzet-Pavan (the Sorbonne).

Although the author divides her study of Venice into distinct spheres—the lagoon and then the greater sea world; the relations with terra firma Italy; the evolution of the state; everyday life—in each chapter these elements operate on planes of convergence, in a synchronicity of economic factors, social realities, cultural phenomena, political contingencies, symbols, and specific cartographies. To say that Crouzet-Pavan has a grasp of the literature, from the oldest parchments to contemporary writings, is an understatement, and she is always happy to poke a hole in a thesis—that Venice turned its back on the mainland, for example. She explores the city’s relationship to its site both as trope and as vehicle to commercial and political relationships, its location influencing how it grew through an arduous process of construction and helping shape the networks and customary relations of Venetian life. The historian traces the early crystallization of political forms and institutions, the interventionist character and harmonious activities of powerful families, paradigmatic shifts in government, and the surprising diversity of players within the city’s exclusiveness. Elegantly, she animates her story with the acts, words, and movements of actual Venetians, all within “a space in which men and women, acting in accordance with set rhythms, well-established codes, and accepted signs, fabricated history day by day, lived, produced, came together, and expressed their identities in specific practices and customs.” Crouzet-Pavan constantly shuffles the big picture with the human scale: international relations are crucially important, but so are the role of money-lending and salt production, not to mention confraternities, the parish bell tower, the candlestick maker, the fencing teacher, and the rag seller.

Crouzet-Pavan is an impressive conductor, making sprightly and complex music out of the myriad strains that shape Venice.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2002

ISBN: 0-8018-6958-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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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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