Satisfying to information seekers, but disappointing to those in search of a good read.

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FROM DESERT SANDS TO GOLDEN ORANGES

THE HISTORY OF THE GERMAN TEMPLER SETTLEMENT OF SARONA IN PALESTINE 1871-1947

A detailed history of a group of Protestant German pioneers in the Holy Land.

For readers unfamiliar with the German Temple Society, whose members emigrated from Germany to Palestine with the aim of creating the kingdom of God in the Holy Land, this book provides a wealth of information. It begins with the group’s roots in the German Lutheran Church in the 19th century and follows them through their early, difficult days in Palestine and into a thriving community based around agriculture before their eventual removal from Israel in the mid-1940s. Theirs is a story fraught with peril and hardship, whether combating outbreaks of malaria in the earliest days of the settlement or enduring forced internments during two world wars. It’s also a story of great success; the Templers started with virtually nothing and brought forth a thriving community, the architectural remnants of which can still be seen. So it is all the more disappointing that the book does so little to imbue this history of the Templers with the drama their tale so richly deserves. While the book reveals myriad details about the Templers’ existence—everything from municipal tax rates to the building of a bowling alley—these facts become difficult to assimilate with virtually no entry into the personal lives of individuals. Photographs and occasional excerpts from diaries and letters provide a rare relief from the otherwise pedantic recounting of such things as agricultural techniques and outlines of a typical school day. As a writer, Glenk (Shattered Dreams at Kilimanjaro, 2007) does not possess the flair of a novelist or journalist who might find a way to present all these facts through the lens of a more compelling narrative. It is the deft combination of fact and story that makes the reading of history a special favorite among lovers of nonfiction. And it is, unfortunately, the absence of story in this text that readers will find most lacking.

Satisfying to information seekers, but disappointing to those in search of a good read.

Pub Date: June 30, 2006

ISBN: 978-1412035064

Page Count: 291

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2011

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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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