MAKING HISTORY

WRITINGS ON HISTORY AND CULTURE

There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned out by crass triumphalism. *justify no* There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned out by crass triumphalism. *justify no* There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned ou

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56584-216-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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...

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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Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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