Posthumous but prescient historical, autobiographical, and literary essays from an Irish writer only now receiving his due. Uncategorizeable Butler (190191) was a passionate Irish nationalist but also a steadfast Anglo-Irish Protestant, a cosmopolitan who lived in Soviet Russia, pre-Anschluss Austria, and Yugoslavia and wrote with rare insight about these lands yet maintained that everything he wrote was ultimately about Ireland, a vigorous essayist, and a scholar with diverse interests in local history, provincial archaeology, literature, and politics. Butler's penetrating, determinedly nonideological essays on European politics and the complex relationship of Ireland and England earned him a reputation as a writer with an Orwellian political conscience and a Swiftian sense of indignation. But he also had a rare gift for communicating his enthusiasm for Irish history. In reminiscences and essays on his native Kilkenny County, he writes with vigor about the Protestant ``descendancy'' in Ireland following the Easter rebellion and the Irish civil war. Butler never excused his fellow Anglo-Irish for choosing exile in England or insular nostalgia rather than an active involvement in Irish affairs. Butler was deeply involved in Irish affairs, but his most difficult moments were caused by his exposure of the Zagreb Catholic archbishop Stepinac's complicity during WW II with the Croatian war criminal Pavelitch and his regime's bloody attempt to compel Greek Orthodox villagers to convert to the Roman Catholic faith. Butler's efforts to document his charges against a popular church figure, in a fervently Roman Catholic nation, caused a scandal that forced him into private life. Displaying lucidity, incisiveness, and uncompromising ethical sense, these essays demonstrate that Butler, whether he was writing about his own life, recent events, local history, or modern Irish writers, was above all, as Joseph Brodsky described him, a ``dishonesty hunter,'' determined to locate the truth and speak it, without fear or favor.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-17551-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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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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