An insightful look at issues still relevant today, related by an accomplished historian and storyteller.




Cambridge research fellow Castor follows up her history of the 15th-century Paston family (Blood and Roses: One Family’s Struggle and Triumph During the Tumultuous Wars of the Roses, 2006) with a fascinating biography of four powerful English queens who attempted without success to rule England before the coronation of Elizabeth I.

Taking as a point of departure the unexpected death of young king Edward VI, in 1553, and the accession to the throne of Elizabeth I five years later, the author examines a 400-hundred year sweep of history when females were barred from ruling in their own name. During this period, England was in constant turmoil, and the monarchy had limited power over the feudal lords, who frequently contested his rule with military force. While Henry VIII could successfully determine his successors, Henry I failed in his effort to place his daughter Matilda on the throne after his death. Outraged at the notion of a woman as “king,” the nobility rebelled. A woman might take over the reigns of government temporarily in the name of her husband or as regent for an underage son, but she could not assume power in her own name. In the following centuries, similar circumstances confronted Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella and Margaret of Anjou, whom Shakespeare described as the “She-wolf of France.” Quoting Shakespeare, Castor writes, “[t]he visceral force of this image drew on a characterisation of female power as grotesque and immoral.” Nevertheless, as the author ably demonstrates, these women managed to succeed in wielding significant power and, in doing so, laid the groundwork for Elizabeth's successful rule as a monarch who, in her own words, had “the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”

An insightful look at issues still relevant today, related by an accomplished historian and storyteller.

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-143076-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet