A swift, enjoyable treatment of one of the most significant battles of the period.

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FATAL RIVALRY

FLODDEN, 1513: HENRY VIII AND JAMES IV AND THE DECISIVE BATTLE FOR RENAISSANCE BRITAIN

In this account of a pivotal battle in Scottish history, Goodwin (Fatal Colours: Towton 1461—England’s Most Brutal Battle, 2012, etc.) demonstrates that he understands that history is much more interesting in small bites.

This is the tale of two monarchs, brothers-in-law, one strong, one strong-headed, who were fated to clash. Henry VIII of England had entirely different views of war from those of his father. The elder looked to the joust and tournaments as a substitute for war, while Henry VIII, banned from jousting when he became Prince of Wales upon his brother’s death, craved the acclaim of battlefield success. James IV was king of Scots, father to all; the Scots looked to him for direction and impartial decisions while they unquestionably supported his call to arms. Goodwin provides a short background history while deftly describing James and Henry—with considerably less material available on James. The author is not especially friendly to Henry, portraying him more as a spoiled child than a princely leader. The real story is of the clash at Flodden a mere four years after Henry’s accession. Henry was actually off in France trying to emulate Henry V, and it was the Lord Howard, Earl of Surrey, who fought with his one-time friend James at Flodden in 1513. The author’s descriptions of the battle are excellent, without too many obscure details that usually just confuse the narrative. The importance of this battle cannot be overstated: It was the last medieval battle fought with pikes and the first modern one fought with artillery; it was also the beginning of the end of Scottish independence.

A swift, enjoyable treatment of one of the most significant battles of the period.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-07368-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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