In a comprehensive reinterpretation of the role of barbaric tribes in Roman history, Wolfram (History/Univ. of Vienna) seeks to ``trace the beginnings of a history of the Germans'' by examining in depth the role of the Germanic tribes in the development, transformation, and collapse of the Roman Empire. Wolfram takes issue with the conventional view that the Germanic peoples precipitated the decline of Rome, arguing instead that they unremarkably ``made a home for themselves within'' the Roman Empire. Nonetheless, his detailed survey makes clear the breathtaking transformation wrought by the Germanic tribes: At first simply alien ``new peoples'' who at the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 a.d. seemed subjugated like the Gauls before them, Germanic tribes, particularly the Franks, Alamanni, and Goths, began attacking the Roman frontier with vigor and increasing success in the early third century. After gaining territory along the Rhine, they won further territorial concessions in return for military allegiance to Rome. After the sackings of Rome in the fifth century, Christianized Germanic tribes blended Roman with barbaric influences, creating a distinctive culture that dominated the continent. Wolfram details the pervasive influence of Germanic tribes on the growth of early medieval Europe, including the development of Visigothic, Vandalic, Burgundian, Frankish, and Longobard kingdoms on Roman soil; the 100-year kingdom of Toulouse, which codified and helped perpetuate Roman law in the West; the dominance of North Africa for over 100 years by the Arian Christian Vandals; and the defeat and probable absorption of the Huns by the Germanic peoples. Despite himself, Wolfram establishes that the Germanic nations arose from the darkness of prehistory to transform the great culture of Rome and in so doing set the stage for the emergence not only of Christendom, but also ultimately of Germany and the other nation-states of Europe.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-520-08511-6

Page Count: 345

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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

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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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