Animated by a contagious enthusiasm that will propel eager, like-minded readers into a truly Lost World.




The author of 1434 (2008) and 1421 (2003) argues that the destruction of Atlantis was not fiction but a tale of an actual volcano and consequent tsunami that devastated the heart of the vast Minoan empire on Crete and Santorini (then called Thera).

Employing the research of many scholars, the self-confidence of a rock star, the zeal of a True Believer and a travel budget sufficient to make Marco Polo and Henry Stanley glow an envious green, Menzies, who served in the Royal Navy, begins his tale on Crete, where he and his wife went for a brief vacation. When he saw the ruins of the palace of Phaestos, his curiosity about the Minoans was piqued, and off he went, chasing down Minoan artifacts, viewing ruins, interviewing scholars and visiting sites of significance, from Crete to England (did you know that Stonehenge was Minoan?) to Lake Superior to the Mississippi River (which the Minoans used to access their American mines) to, well, just about everywhere. Menzies claims that 2,000 years before Christ, the Minoans ruled a vast Bronze Age empire with myriad outposts. They were master shipbuilders, sailors, mathematicians, astronomers and navigators, and they gathered tin from England and copper from mines around Lake Superior, from which they crafted the bronze tools found later in many relevant sites. If Menzies is right—a massive IF that scholars will surely address—then the tsunami of 1500 BCE might have been the wave that drowned a culture, occasioned Plato’s story and spawned a giant Atlantis-related industry. The author’s style is breathless and excessively spiced with rhetorical questions, but—thank Zeus—he invokes no ancient astronauts.

Animated by a contagious enthusiasm that will propel eager, like-minded readers into a truly Lost World.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-204948-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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