A solid yet concise illustrated history of the Great War by a team of international scholars. Oxford has set the standard in illustrated histories, and this one doesn—t disappoint. Though hardly revisionist, some of the essays do offer fresh insights into the conflict. David Killingray analyzes the war’s impact on Africa, already balkanized by colonization from the great European powers. Though most Africans were spared the horrors of direct participation, African economies were still torn asunder, and hundreds of thousands died from famine. Editor Strachan (Modern History/Univ. of Glasgow, Scotland) argues in a later essay that, unlike other wars, WWI was financed almost entirely through credit, not taxes (this legacy wreaked havoc on postwar Weimar Germany). Another standout piece, by Gail Braybon, posits that historians have overemphasized WWI as the catalyst for moving women into the work force. In Europe, she claims, many of the women who worked during the war had already worked before 1914. What changed was their kind of service: non-farm women who were domestics or childcare workers traded in those low-wage jobs for industrial labor. In the anthology’s final essay, Modris Eksteins provides a poignant (though overly short and superficial) exploration of the Great War and historical memory. What remained for Europe after ten million were dead and twice that number mutilated? Throughout the continent, some postwar artists and writers tried to give voice to the suffering they had seen, while others abided by an unwritten code of silence. In more recent decades, the war has been washed with a kind of romanticism, as hordes of tourists descend on the now-parklike battlefields of the Somme and Verdun. Strachan has chosen wisely, and offers a well-conceived (if brief) introduction. In all, a worthwhile contribution to WWI literature. (16 pages color, 140 b&w illustrations, 7 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-820614-3

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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?