As a vest-pocket history, this one likely won’t be beat anytime soon.

READ REVIEW

THOR

THE VIKING GOD OF THUNDER

From the Myths and Legends series

If this book is any indication of the quality of this new series, readers are in for a treat.

Thor, the Norse god of storms and thunder, looms large, particularly among the Vikings and along the whole sweep of North Atlantic islands west to Iceland. He is mentioned in numerous accounts, from pagan religions and the early Icelandic sagas known as the Eddas and onward to superhero stardom. What makes Davis’ retelling of the Thor story so gratifying and edifying is his willingness to delve into this vast literature and exhume the prize nuggets. He squares them to history—on Odin as the father of Thor: “this may be a later addition intended to bring Norse mythology into line with the classical Greek and Roman model”—as well as other literature. Thor emerges as an enthralling figure, brought out of the pagan world and stripped of his everyday importance as Christianity spread through Scandinavia. This is not to say that Davis avoids the great battles Thor has been said to have engaged in, from one with a woman who was revealed as the personification of old age to those against monsters of every ilk, and these make for rousing, intelligent reading. Illustrations include copious material from archives as well as dramatic, full-color paintings.

As a vest-pocket history, this one likely won’t be beat anytime soon. (Mythology. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-78200-075-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Osprey Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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