Cooke itemizes the available details, but more importantly, she notes the questions that weren’t asked, the facts that were...



Novelist Cooke applies her considerable storytelling talent to expose the incompetent, ineffective investigation and 1781 trial of John Donellan in England.

Ne’er-do-well Theodosius Boughton needed only one more year to attain his majority and become the Baronet Boughton. The young heir had been infected with venereal disease at age 15 while studying at Eton. Learning nothing from his experience, he was reinfected multiple times and relied on an apothecary to treat him. He also kept a host of self-treatments in his rooms, including mercury and arsenic. At the end of August 1780, a new mixture from the apothecary was delivered to him and set aside for morning. His mother, instead of riding with her son-in-law, Donellan, stayed to ensure her son took his medicine, noting at the time that it smelled of bitter almonds. Theodosius immediately collapsed into a seizure. Donellan was called in, and he immediately took two empty vials and rinsed them out in the basin. Within 20 minutes, Theodosius was dead. Within hours of her son’s death, his mother arranged for the funeral, had breakfast and discussed her future with her son-in-law, whose wife would inherit much of the holdings. Throughout, readers will sense a distinct odor of English class-consciousness in this case, and there’s no doubt that Donellan’s lack of breeding played a considerable part. Why was Donellan accused of poisoning the victim when his mother administered the medicine? Why wasn’t the autopsy performed immediately by competent surgeons? The rulings of the presiding judge at the trial were blatantly slanted, and “expert” witnesses proved to be completely lacking in authority.

Cooke itemizes the available details, but more importantly, she notes the questions that weren’t asked, the facts that were not introduced, and the logical conclusions that never arrived.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-7996-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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