A feast for students of ancient history and budding historians of any period.

READ REVIEW

THE HISTORIES

A delightful new translation of what is widely considered the first work of history and nonfiction.

Herodotus has a wonderful, gossipy style that makes reading these histories more fun than studying the rise of the Persian Empire and its clash with Greece—however, that’s exactly what readers will do in this engaging history, which is full of interesting digressions and asides. Holland (In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire, 2012, etc.), whose lifelong devotion to Herodotus, Thucydides and other classical writers is unquestionable, provides an engaging modern translation. As Holland writes, Herodotus’ “great work is many things—the first example of nonfiction, the text that underlies the entire discipline of history, the most important source of information we have for a vital episode in human affairs—but it is above all a treasure-trove of wonders.” Those just being introduced to the Father of History will agree with the translator’s note that this is “the greatest shaggy-dog story ever written.” Herodotus set out to explore the causes of the Greco-Persian Wars and to explore the inability of East and West to live together. This is as much a world geography and ethnic history as anything else, and Herodotus enumerates social, religious and cultural habits of the vast (known) world, right down to the three mummification options available to Egyptians. This ancient Greek historian could easily be called the father of humor, as well; he irreverently describes events, players and their countless harebrained schemes. Especially enjoyable are his descriptions of the Persians making significant decisions under the influence and then waiting to vote again when sober. The gifts Herodotus gave history are the importance of identifying multiple sources and examining differing views.

A feast for students of ancient history and budding historians of any period.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-02489-6

Page Count: 840

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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...

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more