Those who relish tales of the rich and famous will appreciate this book, but the real joy is in the authors’ detective work...

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LUSITANIA

TRIUMPH, TRAGEDY, AND THE END OF THE EDWARDIAN AGE

On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, King and Wilson (The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery, 2010) dig for clues to unanswered questions.

The details surrounding how the elusive information disappeared uncover guilt on all sides. The British Admiralty had to protect the fact that they were transporting contraband in a ship sailing without a flag. The local coroner’s inquest, the British Board of Trade’s hearing and a U.S. District Court all dismissed charges of negligence. The admiralty never sent escort to protect the Lusitania as she entered British waters, and the captain acted contrary to orders. Even the journal of the U-boat captain has been altered. Did he fire one or two torpedoes? The German government published a warning as the Lusitania was about to sail from New York, proclaiming that ships misusing neutral flags found in British waters would be subject to destruction. Prior to this statement, the “Cruiser Rules” codified by The Hague in 1899 required enemy ships to give warning, demand a search for contraband and allow the ship to be abandoned before sinking it. In January 1915, England ordered her merchant vessels to sail under false flags and carry munitions, knowing Germany would respond in kind. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill referred to the Lusitania as “live bait,” hoping to draw the Americans into the war. The ship was the last of the great Edwardian ships, as her upper-class passengers showed, some of whom had actually been warned by Germans not to sail. The authors devote inordinate portions of the text to biographies of passengers and still more to the lives of the survivors, but their exploration of the facts surrounding the mystery is the primary pleasure of the book.

Those who relish tales of the rich and famous will appreciate this book, but the real joy is in the authors’ detective work and attention to detail.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05254-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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