A low-key, mannered treatment of the realization of a great vision.



Mitchell (Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing, 2002, etc.) maintains a light touch in this examination of the life of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), the designer of the Statue of Liberty.

A proud Alsatian whose widowed mother moved him and his older brother to Paris to further their artistic careers, Bartholdi studied under painter Ary Scheffer and was influenced by the work of architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in his restoration of Notre-Dame. Having visited and drawn the monuments of the Nile Valley, Bartholdi fancied stone as his “mania” and initially proposed to the khedive of Egypt a colossal statue of a female slave holding a torch to stand at the mouth of the Suez Canal, a construction-in-progress marvel by engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps. Bartholdi maintained that his idea for a lighthouse in the form of “the angel Liberty” was in fact inspired by a poem by Victor Hugo. Spurred by the pro-American views of writer Édouard René de Laboulaye, whose bust Bartholdi was commissioned to make, and faced with revolution in Paris in 1871, he set sail for New York to try to sell his idea, especially as newly fashioned Central and Prospect parks needed statues—although nothing quite this large. Bedloe’s Island in the harbor, containing 14 acres and a crumbling fort, seemed a perfect site, but it would take until October 1886 for the enormous funds to be gathered and the statue actually dedicated. Bit by bit, Bartholdi drummed up support from Franco-American friends and the American wealthy, from President Ulysses S. Grant to architect Richard Morris Hunt, while relying on the engineering know-how of Viollet-le-Duc and ironworker Honoré Monduit, as well as invaluable advice from bridge builder Gustave Eiffel.

A low-key, mannered treatment of the realization of a great vision.

Pub Date: July 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2257-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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