A useful reference about famous and relatively overlooked figures of English history.

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Lives of England's Reigning and Consort Queens

A comprehensive historical work about how royal mistresses, wives and queens influenced and helped shape the future of Britain from the Dark Ages to the present.

Neatly and logically packaged into separate sections, this history of more than 3,000 years of English royalty delves into the little-known and offbeat details about the women on the throne—as well as those near it, and those in the royal beds. Lehman (Lives of England’s Monarchs, 2005, etc.) gives a straightforward summary of each of the 41 monarchs’ reigns, analyzes the importance of the women involved, and discusses the stability and success of the various marriages and liaisons. Religion, mostly bitterness between Catholics and Protestants, dominates the blood-soaked rivalries of the first 1,500 years. Women were fair game to the executioner’s ax, sometimes justifiably but often unjustly; the reign of Henry VIII predictably gets the most pages. The book’s tone is sometimes simplistic, but the narrative keeps the reader’s attention with intriguing details. For example, Richard II and his queen, Anne of Bohemia, brought in the Sumptuary Laws, which dictated how the different social classes could dress; the aim seemed to be to stop the peasants from being upwardly mobile. Queen Caroline, Lehman writes, was the power behind George II’s support of the music of composer George Frideric Handel. The king was so impressed by the “Hallelujah Chorus” in Handel’s “Messiah” during a 1743 performance that he stood up—a tradition that has continued to this day. American Wallis Simpson comes in for her share of scrutiny, with Lehman agreeing with many historians that Simpson was genuinely prepared to end her controversial affair with Edward VIII. The English people hated her, and she returned their feelings with equal measure: “I hate this country and shall hate it to my grave,” she said. However, Lehman doesn’t mention one serious political aspect of the affair: The country and the empire were so absorbed in the scandal that they were distracted from the rise of Nazi Germany.

A useful reference about famous and relatively overlooked figures of English history.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463430566

Page Count: 720

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 24, 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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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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