Another addition to the recent spate of books on the new (old) German capital. It should come as no surprise that since June 1991, when German politicians in the Bundestag voted that Berlin would again be the capital of a united Germany, scholars have turned their attention to that city. Ronald Taylor’s Berlin and Its Culture (1998) focused on a rich heritage of art, architecture, music, and theater; Faust’s Metropolis by Alexandra Richie (1998) borrowed the brilliant motif of Faust to explore and explain Berlin’s identity. No doubt this latest contribution to a growing genre will be compared with the predecessors; written by MacDonough, a British journalist for the Financial Times and the author of well- regarded historical works (A Good German: Adam von Trott zu Salz, 1992, etc.), his rendering of the city more than holds its own. Berlin, according to the author, is now reinventing itself for precisely the ninth time. No wonder recent tourists have marveled at all the physical construction (and renovation) going on. More important, though, as the author points out, Berlin is rethinking its position as the capital of a united Germany in a united Europe. MacDonough does a fine job of balancing matters of chronology with thematic issues; he gracefully synthesizes social, cultural, and political history. The author of several works on food and drink, he’s roundly unapologetic about devoting an entire chapter here of nearly 50 pages to the topic—one must conclude that cuisine is an excellent means through which to approach history and urban biography. What emerges from the tapestry? “Berlin was and is a city of villages, each with a different character and political complexion.— While many in Europe look on in apprehension as Berlin burgeons, MacDonough feels confident of the future of —the inextinguishable city.— (16 pages b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 1998

ISBN: 0-312-18537-5

Page Count: 540

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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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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