Of much interest to students of late medieval British history, though a glance at the 20-odd pages of charted royal lineages...




Lancasters, Yorkists, and appendices, oh my!

If you can read a history of the wars of Lancaster and York without being confused then you are in a small minority and probably have a degree in the subject. As it is, the conflict between contending bloodlines and their allies spills over into all sorts of events in the larger European context. In his first book to be published in America, former British intelligence officer Bicheno (Elizabeth's Sea Dogs: How the English Became the Scourge of the Seas, 2014, etc.) does very good work by personalizing some of that larger picture. For instance, he notes that a key figure in the proximate causes of war was the widow of the Duke of Bedford, who had married her so hastily after the death of his wife he lost a “crucial English ally in the endgame of the Hundred Years War.” Then there was King Henry VI, whose mother had set up house, unmarried, with Owen Tudor, introducing a name into English history that would soon be heard from again. Those striking personalities aside, Bicheno’s history of a bloody war among cousins is complex and sometimes tedious—not through any fault of his own but because the endless back and forth of royal and anti-royal factions is simply tiresome and wrapped in overelaborate but needed detail. A sentence such as, “it is not clear whether the first Lancastrian emissaries were sent after the duchesses arrived at St Albans, or crossed paths with them,” begs the question whether it matters. At its best, Bicheno’s book—the first volume of a history that will feature better-known figures than the early stirrings recounted here—is a fast-paced study of savage battles full of longbowmen and the equerry.

Of much interest to students of late medieval British history, though a glance at the 20-odd pages of charted royal lineages and ranking clergy will doubtless scare off casual readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-306-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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