An adventure in history packed with details—some intimate, some surprising, some shocking, and all convergent into an...

IN EUROPE

TRAVELS THROUGH THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

An international bestseller, this epic work follows the flow of time through European locales almost as a geologist follows a riverbed.

Dutch journalist Mak (Amsterdam, 2000, etc.) walks the streets—from Paris, London, Berlin and Rome to Stalingrad, Srebenica and Sarajevo—haunting the libraries and reading rooms, looking into faces that reveal like maps the traces of what has gone by. He is simultaneously a tourist, detective and storyteller: The broad, beautiful boulevards and arterials of Paris or Vienna, for example, were not planned primarily on the basis of aesthetics, he reminds us; their purpose was to move an army speedily to any site of riot or rebellion. Out of such stories flows a compelling vision of a fractured, segmented, yet terminally conjoined Europe, where socialized humanity strives on as its leaders continually fail. At one of Europe’s bloodiest World War I battlefields, Ypres, where half of Corporal Adolf Hitler’s unit was wiped out as the allies checked Germany’s advance for good, Mak simply wonders out loud why there couldn’t have been one more marker among those in the “H” section of the expansive German graveyard. He neatly fits crucial information into such contexts with sometimes disarming familiarity. For example, Mak points to the desperate pleas for restraint exchanged between Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas of Russia during the panic preceding the First War; signed “Cousin Willy” and “Cousin Nicky,” the letters reflect the helplessness of an interrelated royalty in the clutch of larger forces. The Hapsburgs vaporized, leaving behind century-defying animosities that Mak reminds us flamed up again in World War II and even into the 1990s in Bosnia. The gap between have-not Eastern Europe and the haves in the West continues to widen, he warns.

An adventure in history packed with details—some intimate, some surprising, some shocking, and all convergent into an essential, coherent story of modern Europe.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-42495-3

Page Count: 896

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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