Blainey’s knowledge of the continent’s indigenous peoples and flora and fauna are exceptionally useful in understanding the...




Prolific Australian historian Blainey (A Short History of the Twentieth Century, 2006, etc.) revisits the epic journey of Capt. James Cook’s Endeavour and a parallel voyage by a French ship.

The author notes that the Endeavour, bankrolled by the British crown and loaded with scientists, and Capt. Jean de Surville’s St. Jean-Baptiste, stocked with trading merchandise and in search of a legendary Jewish colony in the South Pacific, both made maritime history in different ways. They even passed within miles of each other in the Tasman Sea on the same day in December 1769, despite the fact that Cook departed in August 1768 from Plymouth, de Surville in June 1769 from Pondicherry, India. Both voyages were inspired by Capt. Samuel Wallis’s discovery of Tahiti on the Dolphin in 1767, and by his hints at an adjacent land mass inhabited by Jewish traders. They were also inspired by expeditions in the previous century by the Dutchman Abel Tasman. Blainey excavates the journals of Cook, the Endeavour’s aristocratic botanist Joseph Banks, de Surville and others, fashioning an exciting, detail-heavy re-creation of the parallel voyages. De Surville explored a previously unknown stretch of the Pacific, though he veered westward too precipitously, heading to New Zealand, while Cook and his crew of botanists were heading home from New Zealand by what they thought was the expedient route, and struck the eastern coast of Australia. Both made tentative first contact with natives, and both were hounded by scurvy, though Cook’s dietary innovations were lifesaving.

Blainey’s knowledge of the continent’s indigenous peoples and flora and fauna are exceptionally useful in understanding the context of these discoveries.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56663-825-8

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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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